‘Everybody loves a campaign’: Raskin weighs Senate run

Congress Oversight
Rep. Jamie Raskin, D-Md., left, testifies during a House Judiciary subcommittee on Capitol Hill, Thursday, Feb. 9, 2023. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)

Among the potential and announced candidates running for Maryland Sen. Ben Cardin’s open seat in 2024, U.S. Rep. Jamie Raskin stands apart.

In the last few years, Raskin has become one of the most visible members in the House of Representatives — taking key rolls in the second impeachment of former President Donald Trump, the January 6th Committee, and now, the House Oversight Committee.

This is not to say this race is in the bag for Raskin to win. In the weeks since Cardin announced he wouldn’t seek reelection, a handful of serious candidates have thrown their hats into the ring including Prince George’s County Executive Angela Alsobrooks, Montgomery County Councilmember Will Jawando and Maryland Rep. David Trone, among others.

Raskin’s political career started in the Maryland State Senate in 2006 after teaching constitutional law at D.C.’s American University. In 2016, he was elected by Maryland’s 8th District to the U.S. House of Representatives. To many, a run for Senate seems to be the next logical political step.

But for Raskin, it’s not that simple.

“I haven’t decided yet,” Raskin said on WTOP’s DMV Download podcast. “I’m thinking it through.”

He said two things give him pause on a 2024 senate run. The first is his recent battle with lymphoma cancer.

“Just a day or two after I rang the bell and completed chemotherapy, Sen. Cardin made his announcement that he wasn’t going to be running for reelection,” Raskin said. “And suddenly, I was bombarded with all these calls. So I’ve asked everybody’s patience.”

As recently as last week, Raskin received his final PET scan, confirming that his cancer is in remission.

“I feel better every day and I am not experiencing the nausea anymore or the neuropathy, and back in the land of the living,” Raskin said.

Despite this, Raskin acknowledged the after effects of chemotherapy are real and still present.

“You know chemotherapy is strange because it’s your best friend,” Raskin said. “It’s saving your life, but it’s also like your worst enemy, because it’s just creating this cascade of dreadful symptoms.”

For Raskin, the mental and psychological impacts of cancer treatment are there too.

“I feel like I’ve been in a foreign land for the last five months with lots and lots of people who are struggling to survive,” Raskin said. “There are just times when you don’t think you’re going to be able to make it through.”

Beyond the medical reality, Raskin isn’t sure the Senate is the best place for him as a lawmaker.

“I think we’re still in the middle of the fight to defend democracy and freedom against Trump and his forces of authoritarianism and insurrection and corruption,” Raskin said. “And I wish I could say that the struggle that I’ve been involved in, with the impeachment trial and the January 6th committee and the defense of democracy and the Oversight Committee, was over, but it’s not over by a long shot.”

Now, sitting as the ranking Democratic member of the House Oversight Committee, Raskin said his current legislative powers and influence may outweigh what a potential Senate seat has to offer.

“We’re still in the thick of this thing,” Raskin said. “So I’m trying to figure out where my energies and experience are best channeled at this point going forward.”

But it’s the Senate — a politico might say. It’s a longer term, bigger office and the next rung up on the political ladder.

According to Raskin, all that stuff no longer motivates him the same way it used to.

“I’ve been through so many hard times. We lost our son, Tommy, on the last day of the year in 2020. And that’s still a staggering heartbreak for us,” Raskin said, pausing before adding, “Anyway, the personal, political ambition side of it is not so important to me anymore. I’m really just trying to think about the country and the democracy and the family and the people and the constituents I love.”

Whatever his decision, Raskin said he’ll decide by early June.

“I appreciate everybody’s patience, because I know people want to know,” Raskin said. “Everybody loves a campaign.”

Luke Garrett

Luke Garrett is a D.C. native dedicated to journalism. He is a reporter and the creator, host and producer of the original WTOP podcast, “DMV Download.” The podcast debuted in 2022. On the show, Garrett takes a weekly look at the biggest stories and ideas in the D.C. region.

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