An online journal of politics, policy, and society with a special focus on Maryland -- Contact: on_background at yahoo.com.

Tuesday, June 27, 2006


In an effort to bring some insight into the races that don't always make the headlines, I'm going to try to bring you updates on a few of the candidates running for office in Maryland, specifically in Montgomery and Prince George's counties, this year. First up is Jamie Raskin, candidate for state Senate in District 20.


You may have heard something about the bumper crop of energetic, thoughtful, progressive leaders running for office in Montgomery County this fall. The normally staid, often incumbent-driven politics are being upended as these candidates bring forward new ideas and a willingness to do the hard work to solve the problems we face and improve our community. And the all-too-often passive incumbents are running for their political lives.

Nowhere is this more true than in the heavily Democratic 20th legislative district, encompassing the southeastern corner of Montgomery County (Silver Spring and Takoma Park), where in less than 80 days we’ll have the most exciting election in several cycles. In the most interesting race, long-time incumbent Ida Ruben is being challenged by public advocate and American University professor Jamie Raskin.

In a recent interview, Raskin laid out an ambitious agenda, to "be the State Senator who makes universal health care for Maryland a reality, achieves funding for the Thornton Commission's pre-K mandate, builds an effective state/local/federal coalition to make the Purple Line happen, succeeds in moving to abolish the death penalty in our state, enacts 100% voter registration by making registration a condition for graduation from high school, pushes for Clean Cars legislation and active state involvement in a Mid-Atlantic regional compact to dramatically lower greenhouse gas emissions, and builds a wall of separation between our politics and corporate money by abolishing corporate contributions to candidates for state office."

One of the primary complaints of some of the incumbents is that they and their work are little seen or heard back home. Raskin recognizes that we want something done in Annapolis and plans to team up with members of the community to build a statewide coalition to help make real change possible. He’s already started that process by getting in touch with many by “building the most powerful and far-reaching grassroots campaign for the State Senate that anyone has seen in decades in our district. I'm knocking on thousands of doors and we're mobilizing younger voters, older voters, middle-aged parents like me and my wife, PTA presidents, environmentalists, teachers, students, labor activists, community and civic activists, progressive change agents, and everyone who has been bypassed and ignored by the remnants of the political machine. “

Raskin refused to attack the longtime incumbent for her campaign’s rumored misrepresentations, push polls, and other shenanigans. Instead, he said “But I know from being out there every day that this campaign is not about the last 35 years, it's about the next 35 years.”

And stated his profound dedication to making a difference: “The answer is that the chance to make sweeping changes in our politics and in government is extraordinary right now, and I have three kids that will inherit the future that we create for them. I've got a responsibility to do this. I love Maryland, I love Silver Spring and Takoma Park, and it turns out that I love campaigning too. I hope to represent our community with vigor and vision for the next four years.”

To learn more about Jamie Raskin, take a look at his web site.