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Government & Politics

Political notes: Raskin’s progress, Dems to choose new party leadership, and comings & goings

U.S. Rep. Jamie Raskin addresses the crowd at a Democratic party rally attended by President Joe Biden in Rockville. Photo by Danielle E. Gaines.

Good news for Maryland Congressman Jamie Raskin and his bid to become the top Democrat on the House Committee on Oversight and Reform: A group of senior Democrats voted Wednesday to recommend Raskin for the job.

Politico reported that the House Democratic Steering & Policy Committee, a group of senior House leaders, passed the recommendation along to the full Democratic caucus, which will vote later this month on who should replace New York Rep. Carolyn Maloney as the top Democrat on the panel. Maloney, who became chair of the committee after the death of Maryland Rep. Elijah Cummings (D), is leaving Congress after losing a Democratic primary earlier this year.

According to Politico, 30 members of the steering committee voted to recommend Raskin for the job of ranking member (rather than chair, since the Democrats will be back in the minority starting in January). Virginia Rep. Gerry Connolly received 19 votes and Massachusetts Rep. Stephen Lynch got seven votes.

The outcome is considered noteworthy because the steering committee tends to favor seniority when passing along recommendations to the full caucus, and both Lynch and Connolly have far more seniority on the Oversight panel than Raskin. But Raskin’s prominent role on the committee investigating the Jan. 6, 2021 insurrection at the U.S. Capitol and in the second impeachment of President Trump has elevated his stature with his colleagues and spotlighted his ability to go toe-to-toe with Republicans.

“He’s famous and he’s popular!” a Democratic aide told Axios.

While the recommendation of the steering committee doesn’t automatically translate into victory in the full caucus vote, it sure helps. So Raskin’s good news must also be considered good news for Prince George’s County Executive Angela Alsobrooks (D), U.S. Rep. David Trone (D) and any other Democrat who might be interested in running for U.S. Senate in 2024 assuming three-term Sen. Ben Cardin (D) doesn’t try again. Most prospective Senate candidates probably prefer not having Raskin — who is likely to remain in the House if he’s the top Democrat on oversight — in the primary.

Md. Dems to gather

What is the leadership of the Maryland Democratic Party going to look like under the first Democratic governor in eight years? Remarkably similar to the way it has looked for the past few years — at least at the top.

The state party will hold its biannual meeting of the Democratic State Central Committees from all 24 jurisdictions on Saturday morning at the headquarters of the International Brother of Electrical Workers Local 26 in Lanham. After getting a briefing from Saif Ratul, who led the Democrats’ coordinated campaign in the state, the committee members will elect party officers to serve from 2022 to 2026.

Gov.-elect Wes Moore (D), who plans to attend the meeting, has blessed current Chair Yvette Lewis for another term, meaning she’s almost certain to win. The party will also elect a first vice chair, second vice chair, third vice chair, secretary, treasurer, deputy secretary, and deputy treasurer.

The meeting, which begins at 10 a.m., is open to the press and public. That’s a contrast to the Maryland Republican Party’s semi-annual convention this past weekend, where party stalwarts chose Nicole Beus Harris to serve as chair in a session that was held behind closed doors. The rest of the GOP leadership lineup: Nicole Bennett (first vice chair); Heath Barnes (second vice chair); Dwight Patel (third vice chair); and Mark Uncapher (secretary).

Personnel notes from all over

  • Matthew Fleming has been named as the first permanent executive director of the Anne Arundel County and City of Annapolis Resiliency Authority. Fleming has more than 25 years of experience in the areas of coastal restoration, natural resource management, and program administration. He comes to the county from the Maryland Department of Natural Resources, where he recently served as assistant secretary for Aquatic Resources. Fleming takes the job from Dan Nees, who had been serving as interim executive director since May.
  • Alexander K. Austin is set to become the new president and CEO of the Prince George’s County Chamber of Commerce. Austin served most recently as the director of Business Services at Employ Prince George’s.

  • Shannah Minderlein is joining the Annapolis lobbying firm Bellamy Genn Group LLC as a government relations Associate. Minderlein worked in Annapolis and a General Assembly intern, then as an aide to Del. Haven Shoemaker (R-Carroll). She has also worked as a field director for Gov. Larry Hogan’s reelection campaign and for the Annapolis lobbying shop Capitol Strategies.