It is less than eight miles from Capitol Hill to the southern boundary of Maryland’s 8th Congressional District, where numerous members of the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives maintain residences. And so it is little surprise that this year’s hotly contested and very expensive race for Democratic nomination to succeed Rep. Chris Van Hollen is attracting the attention of members of Congress from around the nation.
With four weeks to go until the April 26 primary, 40 sitting members of Congress (two senators and 38 House members) have made formal endorsements. With 188 legislators now comprising the House’s Democratic Caucus, this translates into about 20 percent of all Democratic House members voicing a preference in the high-profile contest.
To a significant degree, ethnicity and gender are driving these endorsements. State Del. Kumar Barve, seeking to become only the fourth Indian-American ever to serve in the U.S. House, has picked up the backing of several leading members of the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus. Likewise for Del. Ana Sol Gutierrez, hoping to become Maryland’s first Latino U.S. House member, and former Obama administration official Will Jawando, the only African-American in the District 8 Democratic contest, who have received support from members of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus and Congressional Black Caucus, respectively.
Former Marriott International executive Kathleen Matthews, who has campaigned extensively on the need to elect more women to Capitol Hill, has claimed the endorsement of two senators and 10 House members, a majority of them female.
Meanwhile, state Sen. Jamie Raskin, an outspoken liberal during his decade in Annapolis, has picked up support among the leadership of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, regarded as the left wing of congressional Democrats.
Raskin also has a near-monopoly on labor union endorsements in the contest, although UNITE HERE, which represents hospitality workers in some parts of the county, is backing Barve. And while Raskin has attracted support from near-majorities of both the Montgomery County Council and the Board of Education, the two houses of the Maryland General Assembly appear to be following a “favorite son” pattern. Barve, a member of the leadership of the House of Delegates for more than a decade, has the backing of nearly a quarter of his Democratic colleagues there, while Raskin, currently the Senate majority whip, has been endorsed by more than half of his fellow Democrats in that chamber.
Notably, 13 members of the 32-member Montgomery County delegation in Annapolis have opted not offer an endorsement in the 8th District race, reflecting a discomfort among some about taking sides in a primary contest in which three sitting state legislators are among the nine candidates.
The Montgomery County-based district also includes portions of Frederick and Carroll counties. Given the district’s heavily Democratic makeup, the winner of the Democratic primary will be the odds-on favorite to succeed Van Hollen next January.
In addition to the Barve, Gutierrez, Jawando, Matthews and Raskin, the contest includes David Anderson, an official of a Washington-based seminar and internship program; former biotech industry official Dan Bolling of Bethesda; former State Department official Joel Rubin; and Total Wine & More co-owner David Trone.
Trone, of Potomac, has staked his chances on a self-funded, multi-million dollar television and direct mail effort. The Trone campaign said it has not focused on seeking endorsements, although Trone last week was backed by former Education Secretary Richard Riley, who served in the administration of former President Clinton. Anderson, another Potomac resident who has been seeking to position himself somewhat to the right of his opponents, said he has not sought endorsements. Bolling, who filed just hours before last month’s deadline, also has not claimed any endorsements.
Following, in alphabetical order, is a compilation of the major endorsements garnered by the other six Democratic candidates:
Del. Kumar Barve (Dist. 17/Rockville)
–House: Reps. Ami Bera, Judy Chu and Mike Honda of California and Grace Meng of New York; Del. Madeline Bordallo of Guam
–Norman Mineta, secretary of commerce in the Clinton administration, secretary of transportation in the George W. Bush administration, and a Democratic member of the House from California (1975-2000)
Maryland General Assembly
–Senate: Sen. Craig Zucker (Dist. 14/Brookeville)
–House of Delegates: Overall, Barve has been endorsed by 21 of his 90 fellow House Democrats.
Leadership: Speaker Michael Busch (Anne Arundel County) and Speaker Pro Tem Adrienne Jones (Baltimore County)
Montgomery County: Majority Leader Anne Kaiser (Dist. 14/Silver Spring) and Dels. Eric Luedtke (Dist. 14/Burtonsville), Aruna Miller (Dist. 15/Germantown), David Fraser-Hidalgo (Dist. 15/Boyds), Andrew Platt (Dist. 17/Gaithersburg), Jim Gilchrist (Dist. 17/Gaithersburg) and Shane Robinson (Dist. 39/Montgomery Village)
–Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus Leadership Political Action Committee (PAC)
–UNITE HERE International Union
In addition to Busch, Barve, a former majority leader first elected to the House of Delegates in 1990, has been endorsed by two former House speakers under whom he served: Clayton Mitchell (Kent County) and Casper Taylor (Allegany County)
Del. Ana Sol Gutierrez (Dist. 18/Chevy Chase)
–House: Reps. Xavier Becerra, Tony Cardenas, Lucille Roybal-Allard and Norma Torres of California; Joaquin Castro and Ruben Hinojosa of Texas; Michelle Lujan Grisham of New Mexico and Luis Gutierrez of Illinois
–CASA in Action (the political arm of CASA de Maryland, which advocates for immigrants in the state)
–Congressional Hispanic Caucus BOLD PAC
–National Hispanic Caucus of State Legislators
Gutierrez, who served two terms on the Montgomery County Board of Education before her election to the state House of Delegates in 2002, also has been endorsed by the chair of the National Hispanic Council of School Board Members. In addition, she claims the backing of 16 state legislators serving in 13 separate states around the country.
So far, however, she has not succeeded in landing the endorsements of any her five colleagues in the Maryland General Assembly’s Latino Caucus — illustrating how political and personal factors frequently compete with ethnic loyalties in such decisions. Of the two Hispanic-American Maryland legislators who have made endorsements, state Sen. Victor Ramirez of Prince George’s County is behind Raskin, with whom he serves on the Judicial Proceedings Committee. And Del. David Fraser-Hidalgo of Montgomery County has endorsed Barve, who chairs the Environment and Transportation Committee of which Fraser-Hidalgo is a member.
Will Jawando (Silver Spring), Former Obama White House and Education Department Official
–House: Reps. G.K. Butterfield of North Carolina, Emanuel Cleaver of Missouri, Hank Johnson and John Lewis of Georgia, Robin Kelly of Illinois, Brenda Lawrence of Michigan, Gregory Meeks of New York and Donald Payne of New Jersey
–Former Obama Education Secretary Arne Duncan
–Former Obama Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Lisa Jackson
Maryland General Assembly
— Del. Charles Sydnor (Baltimore County)
Montgomery County Officials
–County Council: Craig Rice (Dist. 2/Germantown)
–Board of Education: Christopher Barclay (Dist. 4/Silver Spring)
–Congressional Black Caucus PAC
Jawando has the endorsement of former NAACP President Benjamin Jealous as well as several leading figures in the Congressional Black Caucus, notably Rep. John Lewis, an icon of the civil rights movement who was severely beaten when he sought to cross the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma, Alabama in 1965 with the late Rev. Martin Luther King. Closer to home, Jawando’s path to endorsements has been bumpier: In early March, he finished second in a bid for the backing of the African-American Democratic Club of Montgomery County, losing out to Raskin in a voting process that stirred some controversy.
Kathleen Mathews (Chevy Chase), Former Marriott International Chief Communications and Public Affairs Executive and Television News Anchor
–Senate: Sens. Barbara Boxer of California and Edward Markey of Massachusetts
–House: Reps. Don Beyer of Virginia, Cheri Bustos of Illinois, Katherine Clark of Massachusetts, Joe Crowley and Steve Israel of New York, Debbie Dingell of Michigan, Anna Eshoo of California, Lois Frankel of Florida, Ann McLane Kuster of New Hampshire and John Larson of Connecticut
–Statewide: Comptroller Peter Franchot, former Lt. Gov. Kathleen Kennedy Townsend (1995-2003)
–Montgomery County: Former County Executive Doug Duncan (1994-2006)
Maryland General Assembly
–House: Del. Bill Frick (Dist. 16/Bethesda)
–EMILY’s List (a Democratic, pro-abortion rights PAC that “bundles” and distributes contributions to candidates it has endorsed)
—The Washington Post
“All politics is local,” the late House Speaker Thomas “Tip” O’Neill once famously observed. All political endorsements may not be personal, but many contain a large element of the latter. Take, for example, Maryland Comptroller Peter Franchot’s announcement in January that he was getting behind the Matthews campaign. According to sources, it goes back more than three decades to a friendship between two congressional aides: Franchot, then chief of staff to Massachusetts Rep. Ed Markey (now a senator and a part-time Chevy Chase resident), and Matthews’ husband, Chris, then press secretary to another Massachusetts legislator: Tip O’Neill.
State Senator Jamie Raskin (District 20/Takoma Park)
—House: Reps. John Sarbanes of Maryland, John Conyers of Michigan, Keith Ellison of Minnesota, Raul Grijalva of Arizona, Mark Pocan of Wisconsin and Mark Takano of California.
–Attorney General Brian Frosh
Maryland General Assembly
–Senate: Overall, Raskin has been endorsed by 19 of his 31 fellow Senate Democrats.
Leadership: Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller (Calvert County), President Pro Tem Nathaniel McFadden (Baltimore City) and Majority Leader Catherine Pugh (Baltimore City)
Montgomery County: Sens. Susan Lee (Dist. 16/Bethesda) and Richard Madaleno (Dist. 18/Kensington).
–House of Delegates:
Montgomery County: Dels. Kathleen Dumais (Dist. 15/Rockville), Sheila Hixson (Dist. 20/Silver Spring), David Moon (Dist. 20/Silver Spring) and Will Smith (Dist. 20/Silver Spring)
Montgomery County Officials
–County Council: Roger Berliner (Dist. 1/Bethesda), Marc Elrich (at-large/Takoma Park), George Leventhal (at-large/Takoma Park) and Hans Riemer (at-large/Takoma Park)
–Board of Education: Judith Docca (Dist. 1/Montgomery Village), Patricia O’Neill (Dist. 3/Bethesda), and Rebecca Smondrowski (Dist. 2/Gaithersburg)
–Planning Board Chair Casey Anderson
–State’s Attorney John McCarthy
–Sheriff Darren Popkin
–American Federation of Government Employees
–Amalgamated Transit Union
–Congressional Progressive Caucus Political Action Committee
–International Association of Machinists & Aerospace Workers
–National Education Association (parent group of Montgomery County Education Association)
–Office and Professional Employees International Union
–United Local Food and Commercial Workers Local 400
–United Food and Commercial Workers Local 1994 MCGEO (Montgomery County Government Employees Organization)
Traditionally, the two endorsements regarded as most influential in Montgomery County elections have been those of the Washington Post and the Montgomery County Education Association (the so-called Apple Ballot), which this year split between Matthews and Raskin. Running a competitive third in influence is that of the Sierra Club. Members of that group were said to be torn between Raskin and Barve, now chair of the House of Delegates’ Environment and Transportation Committee.But the endorsement, announced late last year, ultimately went to Raskin based on what sources said was a decision that he was the more politically viable candidate in the crowded Democratic contest.
Joel Rubin (Chevy Chase), Former Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Legislative Affairs
–House: Rep. Jan Schakowsky of Illinois
–Thomas Pickering, U.S. ambassador to the United Nations for President George H.W. Bush, undersecretary of state for political affairs in the Clinton administration
–Council for a Livable World
–J Street (Rubin helped to found this group, formed as a less hawkish alternative to the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, in 2008)
Rubin scored the biggest celebrity endorsement of the campaign in early March, when film actor Michael Douglas came out in support of him. In 1979, Douglas produced and starred in “The China Syndrome”, whose fictional plot deals with efforts to cover up a near-disaster at a nuclear plant. The film was released just weeks before the accident at Pennsylvania’s Three Mile Island, and prompted the real-life Douglas to become involved in nuclear non-proliferation issues. It eventually led Douglas to the board of directors of the Ploughshares Fund, where he met and worked with Rubin while the latter was the organization’s policy director from 2011-2014.
David Trone (Potomac), Co-Owner, Total Wine & More
Richard Riley, Education Secretary for President Clinton.