Fighting for Progressive Change: My Opening Remarks at the Dem Debate in Maryland's 8th Congressional District

Here are my opening remarks to the voters of Maryland's 8th Congressional District at my first public debate since entering the race on October 5, 2015. The Democratic primary will be held on April 26, 2016 and will elect a successor to Rep. Chris Van Hollen.

"Thank you to the Woman's Democratic Club of Montgomery County and the many other Democratic Clubs organizing tonight's forum, and to Kate Alexander for moderating.

My name is Joel Rubin. I live down the street in Chevy Chase with my wife, Nilmini, our three young daughters, and my mother-in-law who immigrated to the United States from Sri Lanka in the 1970s. I'm active on town committees, and my two oldest daughters go to public school here, with the third on her way.

I have nearly two decades of public service experience, beginning as an environmental education Peace Corps Volunteer in Costa Rica, then becoming a civil servant and congressional aide, and until recently, serving as the State Department's chief liaison to the House of Representatives.

I'm running for this open congressional seat because this is a precious district that deserves a strong champion with progressive values, one who has demonstrated an ability to take on the tough fights and succeed when doing so.

You'll hear agreement from us about the progressive policies we all care about - from making our economy fairer to expanding Medicare and Social Security to protecting our environment and every woman's right to make her own healthcare decisions.

You'll also hear a lot of discussion about important legislation moved in Annapolis. Those were outstanding achievements, but they were advanced in environments with strong Democratic majorities and a Democratic Governor.

Today, the U.S. Congress, where all of us aspire to go to represent you, is not.

What distinguishes me in this race is my successful track record in advancing progressive solutions, while taking on the tough fights in this hostile arena, including as a senior national security official.

For example, as a Senate staffer, I fought to protect military health care while George W. Bush was in office, winning a bipartisan congressional staffer of the year award.

Later, I went into hostile territory and stood up to the Benghazi Select Committee, fighting for the security of our diplomats and against the politicization of a grave terrorist attack.

And most recently, John Kerry appointed me to help organize congressional support in the House of Representatives for the Iran negotiations, in order to block an Iranian bomb.

I'm proud to say that we were successful.

We need someone who will fight for our progressive values here at home, and who will succeed in a hostile environment. And we need to have someone in Congress who's ready -- on Day One -- and who knows how to do what it takes to protect our district, as well as to help to us all imagine how best to achieve a safe and secure future for our children."