Roll Call Assesses The CD8 Race

Bright and early this 100th morning before the primary, Roll Call has an assessment of the CD8 race. If you didn’t know better, you’d think there were only two candidates running. Even if you believe that Jamie Raskin or Kathleen Matthews is likely to win (which you should believe at this point), I suspect you’d also want to know what impact the other five candidates might have on the two frontrunners. You won’t get any such analysis from the Roll Call piece.

What you will get is a pretty good take on the approaches of Matthews and Raskin. At this moment, it’s hard to argue that Raskin doesn’t have the better voter outreach (a point the author completely misses), but as he does note, Matthews is gearing up while Raskin is slowing down – at least his own personal campaign activity – because from now until April 11 (three days before early voting starts and fifteen days before the primary) Raskin will be in Annapolis for 8-10 hours a day, four days per week (and more as session draws to a close in late March and early April).

How will this play out?

For about four days a week, from now until April 11, a major obstacle will be out of Democrat Kathleen Matthews’ way as she runs for her party’s nomination in Maryland’s 8th District, a primary contest that could well decide the successor to outgoing Rep. Chris Van Hollen.

That is because state Sen. Jamie Raskin – the Democrat who polling and Maryland Democratic operatives say is her chief rival among six others running for this open seat – will be spending more and more time in Annapolis during the 90-day legislative session that ends only two weeks before election day.

“I was obviously aware from the beginning of the race that I’d be going back to Annapolis,” Raskin, the Maryland Senate’s Democratic whip, said in an interview with Roll Call. “I will not be able to knock on as many doors as before, but I’m spending every free minute in the evening and on the weekends out campaigning.”

During the legislative session, Raskin said he has “turned down a lot of smaller bills” this session to focus on his campaign and on issues of larger policy consequence, particularly one that would prevent terror suspects from purchasing firearms in Maryland and another that would require the use of ignition interlock devices in all cases of drunk driving.

With her opponent partially off the field, Matthews said she plans to spend every free minute of her own free time connecting with voters — and then some. On Saturday, she re-launched a door-to-door operation, starting in voter-rich Bethesda, with just 101 days until primary day. The district, which Van Hollen is vacating to run for an open Senate seat, runs from Montgomery County’s border with D.C. north to the Pennsylvania line.

How well will the early Raskin organization hold up while its candidate is off in Annapolis for three months? How diligent and effective will Matthews be in her winter campaign? Raskin has touted his “grassroots” connections and organization from the outset, and there’s no question that he’s reached a lot of voters. Matthews has to prove that she’s up to the task of countering that outreach, if not voter for voter, then at least sufficiently for her to bring her financial advantages to bear in direct mail and particularly television ads.

What role will money play in the end? Matthews already has a $200,000 advantage in cash on hand, and that’s likely to grow. While money might not be able to buy you love, it can help reach a lot of voters in a short time, particularly in a congressional race in a presidential election year.

Finally, there’s another duel playing out that doesn’t always get noticed in the contrast of the two leading candidates: Annapolis versus Washington. Roll Call highlights the contrasts.

“I’m an effective progressive legislator with a decades worth of proven experience,” [Raskin] said. “Nobody has to guess what I stand for.”

In his view, that “proven” record is why he has earned the endorsements of prominent county leaders and many of his fellow state legislators. No one from the state’s congressional delegation has endorsed anyone in the race.* Matthews, meanwhile, has secured support from national groups, including EMILY’s List, as well as a number of federal lawmakers. In her campaign’s fundraising report, which will be released at the end of the month, Matthews said she has received contributions from California Sen. Barbara Boxer and Missouri Sen. Claire McCaskill.

“The endorsements that Jamie has are not the people who have experience in this Congress,” she said. “There are certainly prominent Maryland politicians behind him, but to get endorsements from people who know how to be effective in this Congress says something.”

Raskin said his time in Annapolis over the next several weeks will say something, too.

“This is another way to reinforce my policy values and commitments with my constituents and the broader public,” he said. “They know that I am an intensely effective legislator who gets the job done.”

* This is incorrect. CD3 Congressman john Sarbanes has endorsed Raskin, his former Harvard Law School classmate.

None of these debates are unique to CD8 – what makes this so interesting is that there are so many interesting duels all unfolding in one congressional race. In 100 days, we’ll know the answers, but I’m looking forward to seeing the different fault lines play out from now until April 26.

Random Rumors

Overheard at Busboys and Poets in Takoma (aka “the beating heart of the radical Takoma Park syndicate”) this morning . . .

confirming the two recent statements by Takoma Park’s own Vladimir I. Lenin, construction on the wall creating Maryland’s new Ninth Congressional District will begin in the next several weeks. “CD9” is the week’s trending hip phrase now. Why? Because I said so, and I’m the Snarkster in Chief.

Somebody better get the noted witch hunter Barry O’Connell on the case before this gets out of hand.

BREAKING: Raskin Endorsed By CPC

The Congressional Progressive Caucus, the largest caucus in the House at 72 members, announced today that it is endorsing Jamie Raskin in Maryland’s 8th Congressional District. Here’s the press release:

Progressive Action PAC Endorses Jamie Raskin for Congress in Maryland’s 8th, Citing His “Effective Progressive” Leadership in Annapolis

SILVER SPRING, MD – Progressive Action PAC, the political arm of the 72-Member Congressional Progressive Caucus, announced today that it has endorsed State Senator Jamie Raskin in his campaign for Congress in Maryland’s 8th District.
“Jamie is a passionate progressive, has a proven record of legislative accomplishment, and has put together an impressive grassroots campaign that engages in serious policy discussion about the critical issues of our time, including gun safety, criminal justice reform, and environmental change,” said Congressman Raul Grijalva, co-chair of the Congressional Progressive Caucus. “I am endorsing Jamie because I know he will be an effective progressive leader for the people of Maryland when he comes to Congress.”
“I’m honored to endorse Jamie Raskin for Congress. He’s not just a progressive activist but a national thought leader and a seasoned legislative actor who gets things done,” said Congressman Keith Ellison, co-chair of the Congressional Progressive Caucus.
“With Jamie Raskin, Maryland Democrats have the chance to send to Congress one of the country’s most effective progressive leaders,” said Congressman Mark Pocan, First Vice-Chair of the Congressional Progressive Caucus. “Whether it is voting rights, campaign finance reform, gun violence prevention, environmental progress or civil rights and liberties, Jamie has delivered time and again as a Maryland State Senator and a respected professor of constitutional law. I’m endorsing Jamie because we need him to stand up in Congress for the American people against big-money special interests and to defend the Constitution and Bill of Rights against the Tea Party.”
The Congressional Progressive Caucus (CPC) is the largest caucus within the House Democratic Caucus and consists of 72 Congressional members. Founded in 1991, the CPC is a diverse and powerful caucus that advocates for a strong progressive agenda. Progressive Action PAC is the political arm of the Congressional Progressive Caucus and endorses candidates for Congress across the country who champion progressive change in America.
“What an honor,” said Senator Raskin. “I want to thank the Progressive Action PAC and Members of the Congressional Progressive Caucus for their support. I’m inspired and fortified by great leaders like Congressman Grijalva, Ellison and Pocan, and I will work with all the Members of the Congressional Progressive Caucus to go out and elect a Democratic Congress and a progressive agenda.”
Senator Raskin added: “I’m running on a decade-long record of effective progressive leadership in Annapolis. I want to go to Congress take on the NRA to pass common-sense gun reform, to combat climate change and break from the carbon barons, and to address the striking economic and political inequality in America that is eroding the middle class and thwarting opportunity for millions of people.”


We now have our first poll numbers from the CD8 race, courtesy of the Raskin campaign.

Raskin 30
Matthews 21
Sol Gutierrez 11
Barve 5
Anderson 3
Jawando 2
Rubin <1

28% of voters are undecided.

Not all that surprised by the Raskin/Matthews numbers. Very surprised by the Sol Gutierrez/Barve/Jawando numbers. Hers are better than expected, while Barve and Jawando are not as good. Would be interesting to know if any other candidates have their own internal numbers and how they compare.

Here’s the Raskin poll memo.   

 As with any poll, I’d like to see the full cross-tabs and the questions asked. And I’d also like to see full geographic results, as well as name recognition and favorability numbers.

And as always, results from internal campaign polls are likely to be more favorable than an outside poll for a media organization. But we now have a baseline against which to compare future polls, and Raskin leads.

If I get more details, I’ll post them.

Seventh State Follies [UPDATED]

[UPDATE] An astute reader points out that per Seventh State (still not linking), the post was actually a guest blog by Adam Pagnucco. I will say two things: first, the email sent out to subscribers made no mention of Pagnucco but credited the story solely to David Lublin. So my assumption was understandable, I submit.  

Second, in case it’s not clear, I do not have a great deal of respect for David Lublin as a blogger. I think he has undisclosed agendas (in his near-obsession with the Town of Chevy Chase elections this year he never once disclosed his status as the former mayor of the town and his having been a leading opponent of the Purple Line.

I also don’t like him because he smeared me in 2014, both on his own and by bringing on John Gallagher, who appeared to have been hired solely to attack me and a few others. I find that kind of blogging obnoxious and sleazy, and I don’t engage in it. My one consolation is that Lublin appears to be just as much of a hack as ever in 2015.

I don’t have as much of a beef with Adam Pagnucco. While we’ve had our share of disagreements over the years, I generally find him to be a first rate researcher and a good analyst of data. What I do believe, based on some of his recent work, is that he seems loath to give his readers enough information to replicate his analysis. I wish he’d do more of that, but otherwise I think his work is good.

Needless to say, I don’t think that about today’s piece. Quite frankly, it’s crap. But I wouldn’t have written what I wrote in the same tone if I knew it was Pagnucco rather than Lublin behind it. I would have been less snarky and less pissy, to be honest, for the above reasons. And I have no axe to grind with Pagnucco, and I hope he recognizes that. I know he usually writes the “data” pieces for Lublin, but this one was so bad it made it easier for me to believe that Lublin wrote it and more importantly here, that Pagnucco didn’t. Maybe that’s both self-justification and piling on Lublin, but it happens to be true. I don’t know when Lublin updated his post to refer to Pagnucco, so I don’t know that even if I checked I would have gotten the right information. But I didn’t check, and I should have.
So taking everything into account, I’m not going to amend what I wrote. That wouldn’t be honest, and I pride myself on that. But I’m putting this update right up on top so people know exactly what’s what and all that. And I’ve made my biases as clear as I can. Read the rest with this update in mind. Thanks for reading.


Maybe if David Lublin stopped pretending that Maryland Scramble didn’t exist, he might have written a better CD8 fundraising story this morning (no links, I don’t steer traffic to bloggers who won’t acknowledge my existence). Instead, he’s written a story that any reader here could have told him was poorly reasoned and weakly sourced, and that much of his data had been previously published by me, among others. Moreover, by the time Lublin’s story came out, new developments rendered some of his key assumptions inoperative, which he would have known had he read the several posts I wrote over the past two days about Mayday. Overall, a pretty poor performance, Professor. I’d give it a C-.

Data: much of his top line data is repetitive of my October 16 post, and the spreadsheet accompanying it is, I would not so humbly suggest, more informative with far fewer numbers on the page. With multiple quarters of data, it’s better to show the progress of the candidates over time, which in this case shows the major changes that took place in the third quarter. Lublin’s use of only aggregate data masks the importance of the most recent quarter in trying to project out future trends. It also may be why he persists in calling the $200,000 margin between Matthews and Raskin “close,” when in fact it was generated completely during one quarter, which means if that trend continues, it won’t be close at all by the end of the campaign. My data shows this very clearly. Similarly, Lublin aggregates burn rate data for the entire year, when the quarter by quarter data shows that both Matthews and Raskin geared up substantially in the third quarter. It was Q2 when Matthews spent very little, which makes sense considering that she did not enter the race until June 3, less than a month before the end of the quarter. In Q3, her donations went up, Raskin’s went down by $175K, all while he spent more money than she did. All of this gets ignored by Lublin – I have to admire his ability to ignore facts which don’t suit his preferred narrative.

Lublin has a chart claiming to represent average donations, but it’s not one that I could replicate. How many donations did each candidate receive? Which ones is Lublin including? We don’t know.

Lublin has a chart looking at contributions for the general election, which can’t be used during the primary campaign. He fails to note, however, that such contributions are always from max-out donors who want to give more than the $2700 allowed for the primary. So when he notes that Raskin has $67K in “general election” money to Matthews’ $50K, that means that his super big donors gave more than Matthews’ did. Which Lublin doesn’t mention, presumably because it doesn’t fit his preordained narrative of rich Kathleen versus grassroots Jamie. I also think that it would be far more informative to show general election “dead money” as a percentage of cash on hand, not as a percentage of a concocted number that doesn’t include unitemized individual contributions. Looked at this way, 5.7% of Matthews’ cash on hand is dead money, while dead money constitutes 9.8% of Raskin’s COH – 72% higher than Matthews.

I’ve written extensively about how I believe the fixation with in-state versus out of state campaign contributions is not an argument that is going to persuade anyone other than already zealously committed partisans. Lublin doesn’t begin to try to counter my arguments – a problem when you ignore the fact that I’m here, chirping away on a daily basis – but again proceeds from the preconception that out of state money is bad, bad, bad. Hence the multiple charts harping on this non-issue. Question for Lublin and like-minded partisans: if out of state money is so bad, why does Raskin take it? He knows how to draw such lines – he doesn’t take corporate, PAC or partnership money. So the fact that he takes out of state money at all means that he sees it very differently from other categories of donations. Which means that both Raskin and his supporters like Lublin should really stop harping on this issue, because it’s just not a good argument they’re making.

Where things really fall apart for Lublin is in his “takeaways from the data.” The first two paragraphs have to win some kind of prize for wrongness – every single assertion is either unrelated to the data, not supported by the data, or demonstrably wrong. Let’s go through it.

“Kathleen Matthews’ campaign was predicated on blowing away the rest of the field in fundraising.” There’s nothing in the data to show this, and Lublin doesn’t bother to even attempt to source it. It’s an assumption – an assumption that gives Lublin away as a Raskin fanboy. Money bad, Kathleen has money, Kathleen bad. Not exactly deep thinking there. I think many people believed at the outset that Raskin would raise all the money, that Matthews would get a few big contributions from her rich friends, and that she would be exposed as a weak candidate. So much for the conventional wisdom, hmmmm?

“That is happening with the notable exception of Senator Jamie Raskin, who has so far remained close to her.” As I said above, a $200,000 COH gap generated in one quarter is not “close.” Raskin raised $175,000 less in Q3 than Q2, and still spent more than Matthews. Not good. I wrote in my October 16 post that Raskin could turn this around, but there is no data to suggest that this will happen. Or that it won’t. That’s why I said that the fourth quarter is critical. Lublin thinks all is well, which is just more preaching to the converted.

“One factor that could change that is if Matthews’ wealthy supporters open a Super PAC on her behalf. Super PACs are not supposed to coordinate directly with candidate campaigns, but they can raise unlimited contributions and spend them on both positive and negative communication. One can easily imagine twenty Matthews supporters each chipping in $100,000, thereby instantaneously bringing an extra $2 million into the race for their candidate.” Here, Lublin stops trying to base his “analysis” on the data and drops any pretense of objectivity. He spins a purely conjectural vision of a Matthews super PAC coming in and having an impact on the race. Hey, Dave, I’ve got a different vision: “one can easily imagine a pro-Raskin campaign finance reform super PAC blundering into CD8 parroting precisely the arguments of the Raskin campaign, raising the specter of illegal coordination and outside influence, while simultaneously undercutting arguments about out or state money and damaging if not destroying the carefully crafted image of Raskin as a good government, grassroots, campaign finance reform advocate kind of guy.” Oh, wait, mine already happened. My bad, sorry. Maybe if you read my stuff . . . oh, never mind.

“Senator Raskin’s strategy of community organizing is paying off big-time for his fundraising. He is leading or nearly tied in fundraising in every populous CD8 community except Chevy Chase and his relatively low average contribution rate leaves plenty of room for repeat contributions. His two biggest challenges are countering Matthews’ likely appeal to women and what happens to his campaign once he has to go back to Annapolis for session next January.” Paying off big time? In what universe? He’s $200,000 behind. Oh, wait, I forgot, only in-state contributions count, cause those other ones are icky and have cooties. News flash: out of state dollars spend precisely the same as in-state. So to say Raskin is “leading or nearly tied in fundraising” is delusional. Money is money, no matter how distasteful the inside baseball guys like Lublin might see it.

To be fair, the last sentence is actually accurate: Matthews is likely to receive the endorsement of EMILY’s List, which will bring in – oh dear – more outside money. Of course, it’s hard to criticize that source of money without further alienating a crucial chunk of voters, so Lublin doesn’t go down that road. And the challenge of simultaneously being a candidate and a legislator is a real and important issue that has so far not received much public attention. I have my views on the subject but this post is already long enough, so I’ll save that for another day.

Bottom line: just because someone puts up a bunch of charts with numbers doesn’t make the “analysis” any better. Suspect numbers, errors and omissions, and a conclusion that has almost no relationship to what has come before but which strips away any pretense of objectivity that “Professor”Lublin clearly aspires to. That’s MY takeaway, and on second thought, I think my grade of C- was very, very generous.

CD8 Heats Up

The candidates and the super PAC have been boating away at each other all afternoon. John Fritze in the Sun assesses the impact of the Mayday super PAC ad on behalf of Jamie Raskin in CD8.

Kathleen Matthews’ campaign for Congress fired back Tuesday at a super PAC supporting state Sen. Jamie Raskin, arguing the group focused on campaign finance reform was making “outrageous false claims.”

Noting Raskin’s record on campaign finance as a member of the state legislature, Mayday PAC held an event in Takoma Park on Monday to back his candidacy. The group was founded as a “super PAC to end all super PACs,” supporting candidates who embrace changes to campaign funding.
But as the group worked to lift Raskin up, it also took several hard swings at Matthews. In a web video released Monday, Mayday CEO and former New York gubernatorial candidate Zephyr Teachout said Matthews “has been a corporate lobbyist in D.C.”
Matthews was never a registered lobbyist for Marriott. The former WJLA-TV reporter and anchor did oversee the division at the Bethesda-based company that handled both communications and government affairs.
“This week supporters of Jamie Raskin launched the first negative attack of the campaign,” the Matthews campaign wrote in an email to supporters. “Hiding behind an out-of-state super PAC, they’re distorting Kathleen’s record and making outrageous false claims.”
Matthews’ email to supporters focuses its ire at Raskin but, by law, super PACs operate independently of the campaigns they are supporting. Another proof Raskin wasn’t coordinating his message with the PAC: His camp was trying to pitch a story about a different endorsement — that of Montgomery County Del. Kathleen M. Dumais — to reporters on the same day.

The Raskin campaign blasted right back.

 Raskin’s campaign said it was not involved with the attacks.

“Senator Raskin, as the Matthews campaign knows, has nothing to do, and will have nothing to do, with this or any other super PAC in America,” campaign manager Marshall Cohen said in a statement. “But Jamie welcomes the opportunity to have a public discussion with Ms. Matthews about his extensive record as a campaign finance reform advocate and his proposals to abolish corporate dark money in our elections, as well as any new ideas she wants to present.”
The back-and-forth represents a break from the mostly genteel tone that has dominated the 8th District race so far — and it underscores the impact outside groups can have, even in primary elections. Mayday raised $11 million in the 2014 cycle, and it has committed to raising at least $100,000 for Raskin.

There’s some stuff in the middle about Mayday, which inaccurately referred to Matthews as a lobbyist, then tried to defend it, then brought up the months old “but, but she gave to Roy Blunt” silliness. When the arguments of the super PAC begin to become indistinguishable from those being made by the candidate, voters in Democratic primaries tend to get really aggravated. As to the rest of this “delicious irony,” I said what I had to say, and I stand by it. No good will come to Jamie Raskin from this group’s “help.”

Mayday Comes To CD8

Yesterday I wrote about Mayday, the campaign finance reform super PAC. Today, they’ve come riding into CD8 with an ad for Jamie Raskin, an ad which also attacks Kathleen Matthews repeatedly by name. I said it yesterday and I’ll say it again. No good will come to Raskin from this clueless group.

Even before I saw the video, Matthews has issued a response, an email from campaign manager Ethan Susseles calling out Raskin for a “negative attack” and seeking support.

Look, the fact is that money is money. A dollar from Maryland spends no better than a dollar from Wisconsin. And Raskin’s argument isn’t that Matthews’ money is tainted by who it’s from, only where – as we say down in Texas, “it ain’t from around these parts.” That argument is way too subtle for anyone not already in the tank for Jamie to care about.

Not to mention, when the guy with the good government halo over his head strikes the first negative blow, that’s not going to sit well with many people. Following it up with a super PAC making the attack explicit is even more risky. We’ll see how it shakes out in the end.