Maryland's 8th Congressional District -- Opportunity for a New Progressive Voice

Maryland's 8th congressional district is now pretty safe for Democrats and there is an opportunity to elect a strong new progressive voice. A voice for income-equality, women's rights, civil and human rights for the LGBT community and real immigration reform with a path to citizenship. A Voice replacing that of Chris Van Hollen (D-MD) now running to succeed Barbara Mikulski (D-MD) in the Senate.

There are a wealth of good candidates but it looks like this is now a three-way race between Kathleen Matthews, Senator Jamie Raskin and Joel Rubin. Matthews first came to people's attention while working as a journalist at ABC's Washington, DC affiliate WJLA. She left journalism after a prominent career and went on to an equally prominent career at Marriott Corporation becoming Executive Vice President for Global Communications and Public Affairs. Raskin is a progressive sitting State Senator. He has been Majority Whip since 2012 and serves as chair or sits on a number of important committees where his efforts have made a difference for people including; the Executive Nominations Committee, Judicial Proceedings Committee, Joint Committee on the Chesapeake and Atlantic Coastal Bays Critical Area, Joint Committee on Federal Relations and the Joint Committee on Legislative Ethics. Rubin is a former civil servant with experience at the U.S. Agency for International Development, Department of Energy, and Department of State. He made news when as a pioneering activist for peace and diplomacy he was a founding member of the pro-Israel, pro-peace organization J Street. While Matthews and Raskin have been in the race from the beginning and have each raised big money Rubin entered late but is drawing attention and surprised many when it was announced that he and a PAC supporting him have quickly raised enough to be competitive.

All three have records of distinction. Matthews worked her way up to producer and then writer/reporter eventually becoming a well-respected anchor at WJLA for 15 years. She then went on to host and executive produced the nationally syndicated "Working Woman" television show and hosted the political show Capital Sunday. She was named a 2002 Washingtonian of the Year by Washingtonian Magazine and has been awarded nine local Emmys and an Edward R Murrow award among other top honors during her journalism career. Her career at Marriott Corporation is also impressive. She is responsible for the company's external and internal communications including global brand and corporate public relations, corporate social responsibility, and government affairs and co-chairs Marriott's Executive Green Council. In 2011 Matthews launched a blog which provides insight into her work with Marriott, philanthropic efforts, and personal world.

Raskin has taken what some might consider the most usual route to Congress giving him the legislative experience needed. He was a community activist and is now a Maryland State Senator representing part of the 8th congressional district since January 10, 2007. Raskin has a great record on progressive issues. He has promoted and worked on a number of good government issues as a Co-Chair the Work Group to Review Disclosure Requirements of the Public Ethics Law and chaired the Senate Special Committee on Ethics Reform. He is a former member of the Montgomery County Hate Crimes Commission, and the City of Takoma Park's Gun Policy Task Force. He also Chaired the State Higher Education Labor Relations Board from 2001-05.

Rubin has his own unique record of success at the federal level with deep experience on the issues of national security, the environment, veterans, and women's health. Though not a legislator his nearly 20 years of diverse experiences do equip him to be an effective progressive champion in Congress. Most recently his work as Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for House affairs; the senior official at the State Department responsible for managing the agency's relations with the House of Representatives where he hopes to serve, make him a known quantity there. He effectively advocated in support of the Iran nuclear deal as both an activist at J Street and Ploughshares Fund, and as a government official ensuring the deal made it through a Republican-majority Congress. He worked on a bipartisan basis with the House leadership and key Members to advance Obama administration priorities in Congress to combat climate change, counter terrorist organizations, support child migrants from Central America, and stand up to the Benghazi Select Committee, to which he testified last year.

The people of Maryland's 8th Congressional District have a choice to make, but it appears any one of these three would represent them well.