Maryland Del. Kumar P. Barve says he understands that state Sen. Jamie B. Raskin, like all candidates, is eager to put his record in the most favorable light for voters. But television ads that proclaim Raskin “the only” progressive in the 8th Congressional District’s Democratic primary race are over the line, he says.
“It’s a bit off-putting to hear that nobody else has a record,” Barve said Tuesday.
Context and nuance are the first casualties in campaign ads, and Raskin’s are no different. His three 15-second spots, which went on the air last week, assert that although other candidates in the race talk about problems, he is the only one who has done anything about them.
“Jamie Raskin is the only Democrat for Congress who’s authored landmark progressive laws,” one spot says.
“Only Raskin wrote laws to reduce our carbon footprint,” another says, referring to the Green Maryland Act of 2010, which required the state to adopt more environmentally sound procurement practices such as using more recycled paper.
Raskin (Montgomery), in his third Senate term, played a key role in several major pieces of social legislation, including marriage equality in 2012 and an assault-weapons ban in 2013.
Lawmaking is an inherently collective task, and major bills almost always carry the imprint of multiple contributors. But campaign spots are not designed to share credit, or to show that the candidate is a team player. In Raskin’s gun-violence ad, a brief image of then-state Sen. Brian E. Frosh (D) — now Maryland’s attorney general — is the viewer’s only clue that he also played a key role in passage of the assault-weapons ban.
Barve (Montgomery), who is expected to air his own spot in the next week or so, said that it is fine for Raskin to toot his own horn — but not to pretend that it is the only one in the orchestra.
Barve, a former majority leader first elected to the House of Delegates in 1990, sponsored the Greenhouse Gas Emissions Reduction Act of 2009, which called for state emission levels in 2020 to be 25 percent below the 2006 mark. In this session, he is the House sponsor of a measure updating and strengthening the bill.
As chairman of the Environment and Transportation Committee, Barve shepherded a three-year ban on hydraulic fracturing toward final passage. The bill was sponsored by Del. David Fraser-Hidalgo (D-Montgomery).
“While I am not the only one of the 188 Members of the Maryland General Assembly responsible for moving Maryland forward on a variety of progressive issues, I am very proud of my record of accomplishment and leadership on the environment, gun control, health care reform and other progressive issues,” Barve said in a statement Monday.
He added, “The ‘I Am the Only One’ attitude typifies something we need a lot less of in Washington.”
Barve called on the Raskin campaign to take down the ads, which the campaign said will not happen.
“While Jamie respects Chairman Barve and his decades of public service, our campaign stands by the fact that Jamie Raskin is the most effective progressive legislator in this race — and certainly the one who can beat the big-money candidates,” campaign manager Marshall Cohen said in a statement Tuesday.