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Maryland Rep. Jamie Raskin passes on Senate, announces House reelection run

NPR's Claudia Grisales interviews Rep. Jamie Raskin at his home in Takoma Park, Md. on June 12, 2023.
Catie Dull
NPR's Claudia Grisales interviews Rep. Jamie Raskin at his home in Takoma Park, Md. on June 12, 2023.

Maryland Rep. Jamie Raskin, the top Democrat on the House Oversight Committee who has quickly risen the ranks in the lower chamber, said Friday evening he's decided to launch a reelection campaign to serve a fifth term as a member of Congress.

Raskin made the news ina campaign statement issued Friday night. The move will also shift the competitive race to replace outgoing Democratic Sen. Ben Cardin.

"At this moment, I believe the best way for me to make the greatest difference in American politics in 2024 and beyond is this: to run for reelection to the House of Representatives in Maryland's extraordinary 8th District," Raskin said.

Raskin had been weighing a U.S. Senate run after going into remission following intensive cancer treatment.

"I've written a speech announcing my reelection campaign for the House, I've written a speech declaring my candidacy for the Senate," Raskin told NPR last month. "I figure out my situation best through the process of writing."

Raskin was first elected to the House in 2016 to represent Maryland's 8th congressional district. He taught constitutional law at American University for more than 25 years.

In Congress, he made a name for himself as the lead House manager during former President Trump's second impeachment trial. He later served as a member of the House Select Jan. 6 panel before becoming House Oversight's ranking member.

That means he's one of a core group of Democrats defending President Biden and his administration against Republican investigations. It's a job that's expected to be higher in demand as the House GOP ramps up its probes into Biden, his administration and Democrats since Trump's historic federal indictment.

"We're still in the fight of our lives," Raskintold NPR in a recent interview. "Donald Trump is still very much at large and we're in a struggle to defend democracy and the rule of law."

At the same time, Raskin was in another fight of his life: battling diffuse large B-cell lymphoma, a serious but curable form of cancer.

So when Cardin said in May he would not seek reelection, Raskin was still dealing with the impacts of chemotherapy, undergoing six rounds of the treatment since his Dec. 2022 diagnosis.

Early on, Montgomery County Councilmember Will Jawando, Maryland Rep. David Trone and Angela Alsobrooks, a Prince George's County, Md., official, were among the Democrats launching Senate campaigns to fill Cardin's seat.

Raskin faced a challenge connecting his more progressive Democratic stance with moderate and Republican voters statewide in Maryland. He also knew he would be giving up a lot of groundwork in the House if he vacated his seat.

"I have had friends on Capitol Hill tell me that I would be crazy to think about leaving the House of Representatives, given that I won the election to be the ranking Democrat on the Oversight Committee" and build up new relationships with junior members and staff, Raskin recently told NPR. "And they can't imagine why I would trade that for the chance to go to the Senate."

In late April, Raskin received word from his medical team at MedStar Georgetown University Hospital and the nearby Lombardi Comprehensive Cancer Center that he was in remission, with a 90% prognosis of no relapse.

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Claudia Grisales is a congressional reporter assigned to NPR's Washington Desk.