Formally announcing his bid for the 8th District congressional seat Sunday, state Sen. Jamie Raskin, D-Takoma Park, rolled out a long list of endorsements—including nearly half of his Democratic colleagues in the Maryland Senate, along with four members of the nine-member Montgomery County Council.
Within Montgomery County, a significant number of Raskin’s announced endorsements were concentrated among elected officials in and around his home base: the Silver Spring/Takoma Park area. But several of the endorsements unveiled Sunday are from other areas of the county as well. None of the candidates who have announced, or are eyeing the congressional seat, are well-known countywide—and so will be under pressure to increase their name identification in a district that is based in Montgomery County, but also includes portions of Carroll and Frederick counties.
Seven-term Democratic U.S. Rep. Chris Van Hollen is giving up the 8th District seat to run for Senate.
Meanwhile, the only other formally announced candidate in the 8th District, Del. Kumar Barve, D-Gaithersburg, late Friday unveiled the endorsement of Rep. Ami Bera, D-California. Barve would be only the fourth Indian-American to serve on Capitol Hill, and Bera is the only Indian-American currently in Congress. Barve’s campaign has yet to announce any other formal endorsements of their candidate from elected officials, either locally or nationally.
The four County Council members lining up behind Raskin included Roger Berliner, Marc Elrich, George Leventhal and Hans Riemer—the latter of whom had considered a bid for the 8th District seat before deciding to fall in behind Raskin. While Elrich, Leventhal and Riemer hold at-large Council seats, they are all Takoma Park residents, and share Raskin’s political base. Berliner represents Bethesda-based District 1.
Raskin’s endorsement by Elrich, Leventhal and Riemer—along with Takoma Park Mayor Bruce Williams and five of six members of the Takoma Park City Council—comes as former County Councilmember Valerie Ervin has been signaling her intention to enter the race for the 8th District Democratic nomination. Ervin represented County Council District 5, centered in the Silver Spring and Takoma Park area, from 2007-2013. Ervin has yet to announce her candidacy or file a campaign committee with the Federal Election Commission.
As he ramps up his congressional bid, Raskin has hired Marshall Cohen as his campaign manager. A 2010 graduate of George Washington University’s Graduate School of Political Management, Cohen has worked for a couple of Washington, D.C.-based political polling firms. He was involved in running congressional campaigns over the past two political cycles — as political director of a 2012 bid for Congress in Nevada and campaign manager for a 2014 congressional candidate in Illinois.
The endorsements for Raskin from Montgomery County also included three of his seven colleagues in the county’s Senate delegation: Sens. Nancy King, D-Montgomery Village, Karen Montgomery, D-Brookeville, and Richard Madaleno, D-Kensington. Also publicly backing Raskin was Sen. Ron Young of Frederick County, whose jurisdiction includes a portion of the 8th District.
Others members of the Maryland Senate endorsing Raskin included Majority Leader Catherine Pugh, D-Baltimore City, who spoke at Sunday’s event, and Sens. John Astle, D-Anne Arundel; James Brochin, D-Baltimore County; James DeGrange, D-Anne Arundel; Nathaniel McFadden, D-Baltimore City; Thomas Middleton, D-Calvert; Douglas Peters, Paul Pinsky, James Rosapepe, Victor Ramirez, all D-Prince Georges’s; and Robert Zirkin, D-Baltimore County.
There are a total of 33 Democrats now serving in the Maryland Senate, and this list gives Raskin the support of 15 of his 32 colleagues.
Raskin on Sunday also claimed the endorsements of state Attorney General Brian Frosh, who appeared at Raskin’s campaign kickoff, and Frosh’s immediate predecessor, Douglas Gansler. Both are close friends of Raskin’s. Frosh, formerly state senator from District 16, ran for attorney general last year at Raskin’s urging after Raskin himself considered running for that post. Gansler, a Bethesda resident, and Raskin have known each other since they were elementary school classmates in Montgomery County.
As Bera announced his endorsement of Barve, Raskin claimed the endorsement of two of Bera’s colleagues in the U.S. House, including Rep. John Sarbanes, D-Baltimore County, whose 3rd District seat includes the northeastern portion of Montgomery County. Also endorsing Raskin was Rep. John Conyers, D-Michigan, the longest serving member of the U.S. House.
While they have not formally endorsed him, a campaign finance disclosure filed by Barve last week shows contributions from two of his colleagues in the House of Delegates: Dels. Dana Stein, D-Baltimore County, and Pamela Beidle, D-Anne Arundel. Raskin on Sunday announced the backing of Frederick County Del. Karen Lewis Young, along with his three colleagues in Silver Spring/Takoma Park District 20: Dels. Sheila Hixson, David Moon, and Will Smith. Moon and Smith previously served as campaign managers for Raskin prior to their election to the House of Delegates last year.
In addition to Ervin, the list of candidates who have indicated they may join the Democratic primary for the 8th District congressional seat includes Dels. Ana Sol Gutierrez of Chevy Chase, Ariana Kelly of Bethesda and Jeffrey Waldstreicher of Kensington; former Obama administration official and state delegate candidate William Jawando of Silver Spring; and Marriott International executive Kathleen Matthews of Chevy Chase. Businessman Frank Howard of Laytonsville, a candidate for state Senate last year, is the only Republican so far to publicly consider a run in the Democratic-dominated district.