Political Aside: Jamin Raskin for Congress

I am once again going to abuse my position as editor of the poverty law blog by writing something a bit more personal and political than the normal assortment of posts containing news and law review articles about poverty, though in my defense, I do think it is relevant.

As others have observed, for any President concerned about poverty (and I am assuming both that whoever the Democrats nominate will become President, to assume otherwise is too frightening for me to put on paper or to contemplate for long periods of time) the race for the White House is not the only race that matters. Lower level elections matter, from the Senate races all the way down to local town councils. If the next President does not have support in Congress, his or her ability to make lasting change is severely limited.

A local (for me) election fight that I think is worthy of attention is that taking place between Democrats seeking to be the nominee for Maryland’s 8th Congressional District. The three front runners are Kathleen Murray, the wife of television political commentator Chris Matthews; David Throne, the founder of Total Wine & More; and Jamin Raskin, a three term Maryland State Senator and a law professor at American University. Raskin is my colleague so it probably is not surprising that I am supporting him. But in some ways it is. Prior to his run for this seat, there was a not subtle move among a group of faculty to try to position Raskin to be the next dean at my law school. I was not part of that group and am much happier with the person, Camille Nelson, who was picked to replace our long standing dean than I would have been to have Raskin as Dean. Quite frankly, I felt that Raskin’s attention had been elsewhere—on Maryland politics—for too long and I also felt that the school did not need another politician as dean. Put differently, though we are colleagues, Raskin and I are not particularly close and we have had our disagreements when it comes to the school.

But I nevertheless feel that Raskin’s bid for Congress not only is good for progressive causes in general, it is likely good for the poor. During his time in the Maryland General Assembly, Raskin was courageous about things that politicians are often not courageous about, including separation of church and state as well as campaign finance reform. Raskin gets things done and I am confident would continue to get things done in Congress. As the title to a recent Washington Post profile reports, “Jamie Raskin: The most liberal congressional candidate in a crowded field.”

There are of course other law professors running good races to challenge the Democratic Party to fight for those who are vulnerable in our society and not to simply defend the status quo and the interests of the moneyed class. Tim Canova’s challenge to Debbie Wasserman Schultz, for example, seems like another cause worth supporting. But the candidate I know best is Raskin and I hope any readers of this who live in the 8th Congressional District of Maryland will consider voting for him and anyone with money to spread among worthy candidates will consider supporting Raskin.


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