By Bruce DePuyt
U.S. Rep. Jamie Raskin (D) offered state Sen. Richard S. Madaleno Jr., a full-throated endorsement this weekend, describing him as someone who should excite progressive voters in this year’s Democratic gubernatorial primary.
Raskin’s is the first major endorsement Madaleno has received – and was buttressed by endorsements from more than two dozen other current and former elected officials from Madaleno’s home base, Montgomery County.
“He’s the most exciting progressive candidate we’ve had in decades in Maryland,” Raskin told more than 100 cheering supporters Friday night at the Jane E. Lawton Community Center in Chevy Chase. “He knows our people, he knows our values, he knows our priorities. He should be our governor.”
Raskin also cut a video, outlining his reasons for the Madaleno endorsement.
Madaleno supporters hope Raskin, himself a hero to progressives for his work in the Maryland legislature and Congress, can help jump-start the senator’s campaign. He has consistently polled in the low single digits in early primary surveys.
There are nine Democrats vying to take on incumbent Gov. Lawrence J. Hogan (R) in November. Fully a third of Democratic primary voters tell pollsters they are undecided.
Among those endorsing Madaleno was state Sen. William C. Smith, who said of the candidate, “There is one clear, cogent and progressive voice in the Senate, and it’s his.”
Sen. Susan C. Lee said Madaleno has “courage, backbone and guts,” adding, “He is one of the most respected, venerated and brilliant legislators in the General Assembly.”
Raskin credited Madaleno, a former delegate and legislative staffer, with legislation abolishing the death penalty, boosting the minimum wage, improving firearms safety and enacting marriage equality.
He said Madaleno’s fight for the Democratic nomination reminded him of his own race against then-Sen. Ida G. Ruben (D), a 30-year incumbent, a candidacy written off by the pundits.
“Ladies and gentlemen,” he said, “you guys are looking at a ticket that today may look impossible but tomorrow is going to look inevitable.”
Todd Eberly, a political science professor at St. Mary’s College of Maryland, posted on Facebook: “Worth noting that Sen. Madaleno has won every straw poll taken after a candidate forum. The statewide polls are a reflection of name recognition. The grassroots are clearly looking for something different.”
Former Gov. Parris N. Glendening (D) agreed that the electorate is restless and looking for “change.” He said the Raskin endorsement will have “some impact” but is not a game changer. “It will give some depth to his credentials, but I don’t think it will move the needle all by itself. It does help.”
In addition to Raskin, Madaleno unveiled endorsements from Anne Arundel County Councilman Christopher J. Trumbauer and Frederick County Del. Karen Lewis Young. The rest were from Montgomery County, where Madaleno needs a big turnout to compete in the statewide primary.
Beyond Smith and Lee, the Montgomery endorsements came from:
Del. Alfred C. Carr Jr.; Del. Jeffrey D. Waldstreicher; Del. Sheila E. Hixson; Del. Ana Sol-Gutierrez; Del. James W. Gilchrist; Del. Marice I. Morales; Del. Bonnie L. Cullison; Del. David Moon; Del. Anne R. Kaiser; Del. Eric G. Luedtke;
Garrett Park Mayor Peter Benjamin; Chevy Chase Mayor Mary M. Flynn; Chevy Chase Councilmember Barney Rush; Chevy Chase Councilmember and former Montgomery County Councilmember and former Chevy Chase Mayor Scott Fosler; former Chevy Chase Mayor Kathy Strom; former Chevy Chase Mayor Pat Burda; former Chevy Chase Mayor Linna Barnes; former Chevy Chase Councilmember Vicky Taplin; former Chevy Chase Councilmember Lance Hoffman; former Village of Chevy Chase Mayor and former Montgomery County Planning Board member Patricia S. Baptiste; former Montgomery County Board of Education member Shirley Brandman; former Montgomery County Planning Board member Meredith Wellington.