Plus some bonus discussion of super PACs too. Lou Peck, take it away.
A dispute between two contenders for the District 8 Democratic congressional nomination—state Del. Kumar Barve and state Sen. Jamie Raskin—over a TV ad being aired by the Raskin campaign is escalating, as an independent fact-checking group weighed in with an analysis that lends support to Barve’s criticism of the commercial.
“They all talk about climate change, but Sierra Club chooses Jamie Raskin for Congress because only Raskin wrote laws to reduce our carbon footprint and is leading the fight against fracking in Maryland,” proclaims one of the 15-second spots the Raskin campaign began running on Washington area broadcast stations late last month.
Barve, citing his role in passage of climate change legislation in 2009 and this year as well as an anti-fracking law in 2015, responded shortly after the ad started running—accusing Raskin of “misrepresenting” Barve’s record and demanding the commercial be taken down. Barve gained some ammunition late Friday with the release of the fact-checking report by Ballotpedia, a non-partisan, Wisconsin-based organization that provides online research on political races around the country.
Raskin’s claims “do not square with the legislative record,” said Ballotpedia’s fact-checking service, Verbatim. “Barve…has written laws to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and encourage use of alternative energy sources. As chair of the House Environment and Transportation Committee, he also led efforts to enact a moratorium on fracking in Maryland.” The latter refers to an environmentally controversial method of tapping into natural gas deposits.
As Barve ramped up his criticism of the Raskin ad on social media this weekend, Raskin pushed back—insisting that of the two legislators, he has taken the stronger stance against fracking. The Raskin campaign again said it has no intention of withdrawing the ad.
Peck correctly notes the importance of the environmental vote in CD8, and also notes that Raskin has responded to the criticism of his ad on fracking, but not on reducing the state’s carbon footprint.
Barve’s continuing volleys at Raskin over the latter’s claims on environmental legislative accomplishments underscore the significance of the “green” vote in a district where environmental issues are a high priority for many voters. In recent years, the Sierra Club’s endorsement has become increasingly influential in Montgomery County in local and state as well as congressional races.
Barve and Raskin have long been favorites of the Sierra Club, which endorsed both for re-election to the General Assembly in 2014. But the Sierra Club endorsement in the congressional race was awarded late last year to Raskin, who is citing the group’s backing in the disputed ad. Sources said the move by the Sierra Club reflected a belief that Raskin, with a significant edge over Barve in fundraising and the support of a large network of local Democratic Party activists, was the more viable candidate in the District 8 contest.
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But in an emailed statement Sunday, Raskin contended he had done more to head off fracking than Barve.
“My friend Delegate Barve has an impressive record on environmental issues in Annapolis and I celebrate him for it,” Raskin said. “But the fact is that I introduced legislation to ban fracking in Maryland and he went instead with a two-year moratorium on fracking, a period which ends when he or I might be serving in Congress.”
Raskin added that Barve “has never sponsored or cosponsored legislation to ban fracking in Maryland or even to impose strict liability on fracking companies. I am categorically opposed to fracking in our state and he is not, which is why I think I am justified in saying that I am the one leading the fight against it.”
Raskin’s statement did not address claims in his ad that “only” he had written laws to address the state’s carbon footprint. The Ballotpedia analysis cited Barve’s authorship of the Greenhouse Gas Reduction Act of 2009 as “the culmination of a multiyear effort by Barve to curb state carbon emissions.” This year, Barve authored legislation to reauthorize the 2009 law, which was signed by Gov. Larry Hogan last week. The latest legislation requires the state to reduce carbon emissions by 40 percent by 2030.