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The Ruben-Raskin endorsement dance

In the District 20 Senate Democratic primary contest between incumbent Ida G. Ruben and newcomer Jamie Raskin, endorsements from student groups don't always come easy.

When Raskin received the backing of the Montgomery College Democrats and posted it on his campaign Web site, he soon heard from the college vice president and provost.

"The presentation on your website implies that this is an official endorsement by the college, something we do not allow," Brad J. Stewart of the college's Takoma Park-Silver Spring campus wrote to Raskin in an e-mail, asking him to remove the club's endorsement from his site.

Raskin called the request "ridiculous" in his reply and asked Stewart why no other candidates with similar Web site displays were asked to remove the Democrats' logo. He also questioned why Stewart would copy the message to an e-mail address that belongs to Lorraine Pearsall, a supporter of his opponent in the District that includes Takoma Park and parts of Silver Spring.

Steve Simon, a spokesman for the college, said that until Stewart received Raskin's response, "he didn't know about all of the other candidates."

Stewart was concerned, Simon said, about protecting the college's name because it does not endorse candidates.
Stewart's initial message to Raskin was a response to a call from Pearsall, who said that she thought the Web notice looked like an endorsement from the college and that "Sen. Ruben has done so much for education."

To Raskin, the interference was "one more brazen effort by Senator Ruben to use official and academic power to stifle student free speech."

Last month, Ruben contacted the principal of Montgomery Blair High School after learning that the student newspaper had endorsed Raskin. Ruben said the paper's staff members had not given her a chance to talk. Students said the senator did not respond to their interview requests.

Ruben's campaign manager, Philip L. Olivetti, said the campaign did not learn about the kerfuffle with the college Democrats until after the fact. After reading Raskin's response to Stewart, Olivetti said, "There he goes again. It's another case of the Raskin campaign overreacting."

After checking out the logo posted on Raskin's Web site, Simon, the college spokesman, said this week, "It looks fine."

Conflict resolved.

By Ann Marimow  |  July 28, 2006; 2:41 PM ET
 
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Comments

Holy cow, an elected official is upset when students get involved in politics? So few people vote, why would Sen. Ruben throw a fit when high school and college students get engaged? Oh, because they prefer her opponent.

You've got to rise above that, Sen. Ruben. Otherwise, you look like a desperate incumbent who's primary interest is hanging on to your seat, and not in representing the democratic process that elects you.

Posted by: Anonymous | July 28, 2006 5:45 PM | Report abuse

I have to give Raskin credit for moxie. Raskin has -- according to my information -- approached Registered Greens in Takoma Park and asked them to switch their registration to Democrat so that they can vote for him in the Democratic Primary.

From my perspective, it is a welcome attitude; usually Democrats have only nasty things to say about us.

Posted by: nat | July 28, 2006 6:49 PM | Report abuse

Sen Ruben should hang it up.

Posted by: D20Voter | July 28, 2006 11:21 PM | Report abuse

The College Democrats actually overstepped there bounds by endorsing a candidate. Since the College Dems are still an arm of the DNC the purpose of the College Democrats is to support Candidates up and down the ballot, not to get invovled in Primaries. As a former College Democrat State Leader (though from another state) I am appaled by the chapters action.

Posted by: JM | August 1, 2006 2:29 PM | Report abuse

JM,

Until the Mont. College Democrats have the opportunity to speak on their decision to endorse candidates. Did you ever consider that my schools chapter (I'm also a member of the chapter) made this decision because they did not want to be a political stick in the mud, and they as a chapter opted to participate in the democratic process by supporting candidates who will fight for college students and higher education and not for political pundency? No, it seems like you made a quick assumption on the chapters leadership, based on your past experience as a Chapter leader. What this boils down to is a student political organization decided to be a more vital part of the policy decisions made by the officials who represent them. By telling them "you can't do that because a parent organization said so" is not enough of a justifiable argument to subdue their efforts in being apart of the political process.

Posted by: Mont. College Student | August 3, 2006 2:49 AM | Report abuse

JM,

Until the Mont. College Democrats have the opportunity to speak on their decision to endorse candidates, did you ever consider that my schools chapter (I'm also a member of the chapter) made this decision because they did not want to be a political stick in the mud, and they as a chapter opted to participate in the democratic process by supporting candidates who will fight for college students and higher education and not for political pundency? No, it seems like you made a quick assumption on the chapters leadership, based on your past experience as a Chapter leader. What this boils down to is a student political organization decided to be a more vital part of the policy decisions made by the officials who represent them. By telling them "you can't do that because a parent organization said so" is not enough of a justifiable argument to subdue their efforts in being apart of the political process.

Posted by: Mont. College Student | August 3, 2006 2:51 AM | Report abuse

Mont. College Student,
While the students at Montgomery College Dems want to be invovled in the democratic process, you also have to understand the politics of your decision. By endorsing a candidate invovled in a primary you do three things, bring bad press to your chapter, allow for the legitmacy of the state organization to be called into question by party leaders and if the other candidate wins you can be left out in the cold thus depriving your chapter of a possible leadership role which it seems your chapter has done. A much more politcally savvy move would have been to stay out of the endorsement game but unoffically support your candidate.

Posted by: JM | August 3, 2006 2:26 PM | Report abuse

I have met Raskin and I have met Ruben. I must say, I am NOT IMPRESSED. I am more impressed with a candidate who has a vision for where I live. Ida Ruben has that vision (see downtown Silver Spring as Exhibit A). Raskin seems to be more interested in national issues (see his diatribe on Election Campaign Reform) than he does for what is happening "right in my backyard"...Also, why is this issue even getting press? I heard from several of my neighbors that Raskin literally ran and cried to the post with this issue thinking this would be some sort of negative press for Ruben. I think Raskin looks more like a cry-baby than anything else...For shame Raskin...For shame.....GO IDA...

Posted by: Rollie | August 3, 2006 3:43 PM | Report abuse

Your comment reeks of Ida propaganda Rollie. Shame on Ida for trying to take credit for downtown Silver Spring revitalization! That was mostly Duncan's effort, with Ida chiming in "I agree." That woman has not provided leadership on anything of substance in the legislature. Her claims at bringing home the bacon are ridiculous, since its the rest of the delegation she's stealing credit from. I wouldn't be surprised to see her lose her post next session.....

Posted by: Rollie Who? | August 12, 2006 7:00 PM | Report abuse

Ida propeganda? Puleeze...I am a voter in TP that has spoken to Ruben and Raskin and I have made an informed decision. Ida has a track record and Raskin has none. At the very least, I can see what Ruben's views are on the issues that matter to me. Raskin? What are his views on anything? Campaign reform? How does that relate to the schools that my kids go to or anything else pertainent to me.

I consider myself a cerebral voter that examines the issues and I take offense when a Raskin zealot ries to say that I am proffering propeganda. GO IDA!!!!

Posted by: Rollie | August 29, 2006 7:36 PM | Report abuse

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