In the race to succeed U.S. Rep. Chris Van Hollen (D-8), state Del. Kumar Barve (D-17) tied himself directly to the outgoing congressman, who’s now running for U.S. Senate, though Van Hollen hasn’t endorsed Barve’s candidacy.
“I can’t think of any differences we have,” he said during an Oct. 1 interview at Starbucks in Rockville Town Center. “He voted against the George Bush-era tax cuts, and so would have I.”
As the ranking member of the House Budget Committee, Van Hollen is a frequent Democratic voice on economic issues in Washington, which means the party and state will have major shoes to fill in the U.S. House come 2017.
Part of Barve’s campaign is centered on his tenure in the state House of Delegates, where he served as majority leader for 12 years.
He also sat on the House Ways and Means Committee before helming the House Environment and Transportation Committee once he stepped down as majority leader.
“It’s very unusual for a progressive Democrat to be an accountant and CFO (chief financial officer),” said Barve.
At the congressional level, he pitched creating a tax credit for companies to provide training to workers so that the cost wouldn’t come out of the employees’ pockets and businesses could afford it.
“It would be great if the cost of that would be covered by both the company and the federal government,” he said.
Barve is backed by state House Speaker Michael Busch (D) and state House Majority Leader Anne Kaiser (D) in his run for the Democratic nomination.
He faces state Sen. Jamie Raskin (D-20), state Del. Ana Sol-Guiterrez (D-18), former television anchor Kathleen Matthews (D), former Department of Education official Will Jawando (D) and former Department of State official Joel Rubin (D).
Barve raised $132,505 in the third quarter, spent $85,000 and declared $276,344 cash on hand as of Oct. 1, according to figures provided by his campaign. He’s raised a total of $423,967 since entering the race in March.
Matthews ended the quarter with $891,000 cash on hand while Raskin declared $690,000 cash on hand.
“Obviously, Kumar has been a strong leader in the House as majority leader,” said Busch. “He’s very knowledgeable on revenues and taxes, and he was the perfect fit to deal with reviewing the revenues, what tax loopholes were out there and how we could garner the revenue we believed could be coming into the state without raising any taxes.”
Busch noted Barve’s experience from handling the impact of the recession to the state’s General Fund from 2008-2009.
“When we had during the recessionary period, we had to go out and formulate a plan that was going to bring revenue in the fairest, most equitable way. He was the architect of that,” said Busch.
That included a staggered taxation model for individual income above the $250,000 threshold.
“That way, we limited 95 percent of the Maryland citizenry from paying new taxes,” said Busch.
On a bill to change how Maryland and its localities comply with a federal storm water management law, the House speaker described Barve as “the point person for bringing his committee together and making that happen” in the lower chamber.
“He had to get the support of the advocacy groups … and developers were involved and ended up supporting the bill,” said Busch, saying business groups wanted “a more stable understanding” of how the federal mandate would be implemented locally.
“I have experience at getting people to the table to talk to each other who don’t normally talk to each other,” said Barve.