Sen. Ben Cardin’s (D-Md.) retirement announcement in May immediately fueled speculation that Raskin would run. But he delayed his decision after a recent bout with cancer that is now in remission and has cited his work with the Oversight Committee as a top reason to stay in the House.
Raskin’s statement cited his work on the House Oversight panel and the possibility of becoming its chair as a reason for staying in the lower chamber. In the weeks leading up to his announcement, Raskin, a constitutional law expert, had openly wondered whether he would have more impact as a junior senator or as chair of the Oversight Committee if Democrats recapture the House next year and had privately sought advice from his colleagues. Democrats are optimistic they can flip the lower chamber, though the path to keeping their Senate majority is much narrower.
Raskin acknowledged the conflict in his statement, saying that “if I had two political careers, I would gladly give one of them to the year-and-a-half campaign for the Senate,” but that he had a “different and more urgent calling right now” and would not be able to leave the House. He’d privately sought out advice from his colleagues in recent weeks on how to proceed.
His perch on the Oversight panel was a hard-won position, with Raskin beating out more senior colleagues for the role. Raskin has elevated younger, progressive colleagues on the high-profile panel, naming “squad” member Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) as his number two.
Raskin’s decision not to run leaves the progressive lane in the primary open. Top competitors in the primary currently include Montgomery County Council Member Will Jawando, Prince George’s County Executive Angela Alsobrooks and Rep. David Trone (D-Md.). Alsobrooks is banking on some institutional support, drawing the backing of Rep. Steny Hoyer (D-Md.), and has posted strong fundraising numbers. Trone is able to draw on a deep well of his own funds for the race, having self-funded previous congressional bids. And Jawando has touted his own liberal credentials.