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Joel Martin Rubin

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Joel Martin Rubin
Rubin in 2019
Member of the Chevy Chase Town Council
In office
May 10, 2017 – May 10, 2023
Preceded byFred Cecere
Succeeded byStephanie Martz
Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for House Affairs
In office
May 5, 2014 – July 2015
PresidentBarack Obama
SecretaryJohn Kerry
Personal details
Born (1971-04-08) April 8, 1971 (age 53)
Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, U.S.
Political partyDemocratic
Nilmini Gunaratne
(m. 2003)
Alma materBrandeis University (BS)
Carnegie Mellon University (MS)
WebsiteCampaign website

Joel Martin Rubin (born April 8, 1971) is an American politician and media commentator on domestic political and Middle East affairs. He served as a member of the Chevy Chase Town Council from 2017 to 2023, and previously worked as a senior State Department official in the Obama administration.[1] In 2020, Rubin also directed Jewish outreach for Bernie Sanders' presidential campaign.[2][3]

Early life and education


Rubin was born on April 8, 1971,[4] and raised in a Conservative Jewish family[3] in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.[5] He attended Brandeis University for his undergraduate education, where he received a bachelor's degree in politics. He went on to study Carnegie Mellon University's Heinz College, where he received an M.S. in public policy and management with a minor in business administration.[6]





Rubin served in the Peace Corps in Costa Rica.[7] Rubin was the founding Political Director of J Street, a liberal organization dedicated to promoting the two state solution and secular left wing values;[8] Rubin worked on Capitol Hill as a legislative assistant to U.S. Senators Tom Harkin of Iowa and Frank Lautenberg of New Jersey, both Democrats.[9]



Rubin appears as a political commentator on American networks such as MSNBC[10] and Fox News; and on international networks such as i24, China Global Television Network, and Al-Jazeera. He also writes political and national security commentary for Axios,[11] The Forward,[12] Washington Jewish Week,[13] and The Hill.[14]

Rubin has also appeared in Jewish magazines for his political work.[15]

Executive Branch


Rubin worked for three U.S. government agencies in the administrations of Presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama – the Department of Energy, USAID, and State Department.[3] In January 2015, when he served in the State Department as the Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for House Affairs in the Bureau of Legislative Affairs, he was an official government witness and testified to the House Select Committee on Benghazi.[7] Rubin left the U.S. State Department in July 2015.[9]

Political involvement


Rubin was a founding board member of the Jewish Democratic Council of America, established in 2017 in the wake of the Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville, Virginia. In 2020, he joined Bernie Sanders' 2020 presidential campaign as head of Jewish outreach,[2][3] and worked as a policy volunteer for the Joe Biden's presidential campaign following the Democratic primaries.[6] From 2020 to 2022, Rubin worked as an executive director for the American Jewish Congress advocacy group.[16][6]

Rubin was a surrogate for the 2012 Barack Obama presidential campaign; an advocate for the Iran nuclear deal as the Policy Director for Ploughshares Fund; and as a commentator on the 2012 Benghazi attack.[citation needed] Following the 2018 Pittsburgh synagogue shooting at his hometown synagogue, Tree of Life – Or L'Simcha Congregation, Joel appeared on Fox News and MSNBC to discuss the attack,[17] later commenting as well on the rise of antisemitism in America after the 2019 Poway synagogue shooting.[18] Rubin frequently comments on foreign policy and congressional politics for networks such as Fox News, MSNBC, BBC, Al Jazeera.[citation needed]



Rubin ran for Congress in 2016 in Maryland's 8th congressional district,[7] in what was the most expensive Congressional primary in American history at the time.[19] He was defeated in the Democratic primary, placing second to last with 1.1 percent of the vote.[20] Rubin was elected to the Chevy Chase Town Council in 2017,[21] and was subsequently re-elected in 2019[22] and 2021.[23]

In 2018, Rubin unsuccessfully ran for the Maryland House of Delegates in District 18, seeking to succeed outgoing state delegates Jeff Waldstreicher and Ana Sol Gutierrez.[24] He received endorsements from the Montgomery County Education Association and NARAL Pro-Choice Maryland during his campaign,[25] but was defeated in the Democratic primary, placing fifth with 11.2 percent of the vote.[26] In 2022, Rubin applied to run for the Maryland House of Delegates in District 18, seeking to replace state delegate Al Carr on the ballot after Carr withdrew his candidacy hours before the candidate filing deadline on April 15 to run for the county council, and no candidates were able to file to run in his place before the deadline.[27] The Montgomery County Democratic Central Committee nominated one of its members, Aaron Kaufman, to fill vacancy on April 20, 2022.[28]

On July 24, 2023, Rubin announced that he would run for Congress in Maryland's 6th congressional district in 2024, seeking to succeed outgoing U.S. Representative David Trone.[29] During the Democratic primary, he ran on a platform that included national and foreign policy issues.[30] Rubin dropped out of the race on March 6, 2024, and endorsed former National Telecommunications and Information Administration deputy administrator April McClain-Delaney.[31]

Political positions


During his tenure at the U.S. State Department, Rubin worked to prevent Congress from passing a resolution of disapproval of the Iran Nuclear Deal with a veto-proof majority.[7]

During his 2016 congressional campaign, Rubin said he supported raising the federal minimum wage to $15 an hour, increasing infrastructure spending, and strengthening Social Security and Medicare by removing the cap on payroll taxes.[32] He also spoke against the Trans-Pacific Partnership, citing concerns over protections for workers at home and abroad,[33] and said he supported moving funding away from the U.S. Department of Defense and toward education.[34]

In October 2017, Rubin voted to approve a $50,000 grant to the Friends of the Capital Crescent Trail, a trail group that was suing to prevent the construction of the Purple Line, saying that the companies contracted to build the transit line were not following commitments to ease the impact to the town. The grant was rejected by the Chevy Chase Town Council by a 4–1 vote.[35]

Rubin has criticized the use of the term "apartheid" towards Israel as antisemitic.[36] During his 2024 congressional campaign, he described himself as a "defender of Israel", but said he opposed the expansion of Israeli settlements in the West Bank as well as Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's proposed judicial reforms.[29] In October 2023, amid the 2023 Israel–Hamas war, Rubin said he supported providing additional air missile defense systems for the Iron Dome, supporting humanitarian efforts in Palestine, and preventing escalation from Hezbollah and Iran.[37]

Personal life

Rubin and his wife during his 2018 House of Delegates campaign

Rubin is married to his wife, Nilmini (née Gunaratne), whom he met at a going-away party for his college roommate in the spring of 2000.[38] She is a Sri Lankan-American who works as a senior policy advisor for the House Foreign Affairs Committee and is a registered Republican.[3] Together, they have three daughters[39][40] and have lived in Montgomery County, Maryland since 2006.[24] He is Jewish and a member of the Adas Israel Congregation.[6]

Electoral history

Maryland's 8th congressional district Democratic primary election, 2016[20]
Party Candidate Votes %
Democratic Jamie Raskin 43,776 33.6
Democratic David Trone 35,400 27.1
Democratic Kathleen Matthews 31,186 23.9
Democratic Ana Sol Gutierrez 7,185 5.5
Democratic Will Jawando 6,058 4.6
Democratic Kumar P. Barve 3,149 2.4
Democratic David M. Anderson 1,511 1.2
Democratic Joel Rubin 1,426 1.1
Democratic Dan Bolling 712 0.5
Maryland House of Delegates District 18 Democratic primary election, 2018[26]
Party Candidate Votes %
Democratic Al Carr (incumbent) 10,201 22.2
Democratic Emily Shetty 9,024 19.6
Democratic Jared Solomon 8,067 17.5
Democratic Leslie Milano 6,510 14.2
Democratic Joel Rubin 5,150 11.2
Democratic Mila Johns 4,167 9.1
Democratic Ron Franks 1,493 3.2
Democratic Helga Luest 1,387 3.0


  1. ^ "Rubin, Joel M." U.S. Department of State. Retrieved 2020-05-22.
  2. ^ a b "Bernie Sanders picks former Obama official as liaison to Jewish community in a nod to the establishment". Jewish Telegraphic Agency. 2020-01-03. Retrieved 2020-05-22.
  3. ^ a b c d e Boorstein, Michelle (2020-03-18). "Bernie Sanders was on a path to become the first Jewish president. That was everything to Joel Rubin". The Washington Post. Retrieved 2020-05-22.(subscription required)
  4. ^ "State Delegate District 18 (three seats)". MoCo360. February 13, 2018. Retrieved July 24, 2023.
  5. ^ Kurtz, Josh. "District 6 congressional race is developing slowly". Maryland Matters. Retrieved July 24, 2023.
  6. ^ a b c d Berman, Jesse (July 27, 2022). "From Chevy Chase to the Middle East, Joel Rubin is always drawn back to Jewish causes". Washington Jewish Week. Retrieved July 24, 2023.
  7. ^ a b c d Turque, Bill (2016-04-04). "Middle East peace activist wants to take fight to Republicans in Congress". The Washington Post. ISSN 0190-8286. Retrieved 2020-05-22.
  8. ^ Melada, Geoffrey (2015-08-26). "Exit interview: Joel Rubin". Washington Jewish Week. Retrieved 2020-05-22.
  9. ^ a b Turque, Bill (October 7, 2015). "Former State Department official joins Maryland congressional race". The Washington Post. Retrieved July 24, 2023.
  10. ^ "Search". MSNBC. Retrieved 2020-05-22.
  11. ^ "Joel Rubin". Axios. Retrieved 2020-05-22.
  12. ^ "Joel Rubin". The Forward. Retrieved 2020-05-22.
  13. ^ "You searched for Joel Rubin". Washington Jewish Week. Retrieved 2020-05-22.
  14. ^ "Search". The Hill. Retrieved 2020-05-22.
  15. ^ Stutman, Gabe (2020-03-16). "Bernie Sanders' Jewish outreach chief makes the case for Bernie". J. Retrieved 2020-05-22.
  16. ^ Kurtz, Josh (October 13, 2020). "A New Gig for Joel Rubin". Maryland Matters. Retrieved July 24, 2023.
  17. ^ "Tree of Life member on attack: This is a manmade crisis". Fox News. October 27, 2018. Retrieved July 24, 2023.
  18. ^ Fearnow, Benjamin (April 28, 2019). "Fox News Cuts Off Guest Tying Rise in U.S. Anti-Semitism to Trump Rhetoric, Charlottesville". Newsweek. Retrieved July 24, 2023.
  19. ^ Stolberg, Sheryl Gay (2016-03-05). "Maryland House Race a 'Caldron of Power Couples and Washington, D.C., Politics'". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2020-05-22.(subscription required)
  20. ^ a b "Official 2016 Presidential Primary Election results for Representative in Congress". Maryland State Board of Elections.
  21. ^ Rodgers, Bethany (May 1, 2017). "Former Congressional Candidate and an Incumbent Run for Chevy Chase Council Seats". MoCo360. Retrieved July 24, 2023.
  22. ^ Schere, Dan (May 8, 2019). "Baskir, Rubin Re-Elected to Chevy Chase Town Council". MoCo360. Retrieved July 24, 2023.
  23. ^ Schere, Dan (May 14, 2021). "One incumbent, one newcomer elected to Chevy Chase Town Council". MoCo360. Retrieved July 24, 2023.
  24. ^ a b Peck, Louis (November 9, 2017). "Town Of Chevy Chase Council Member Joel Rubin To Enter District 18 Delegate Race". MoCo360. Retrieved July 24, 2023.
  25. ^ Peck, Louis (June 13, 2018). "2018 Endorsements: Candidates for U.S. Congress and Maryland General Assembly". MoCo360. Retrieved July 24, 2023.
  26. ^ a b "Official 2018 Gubernatorial Primary Election results for House of Delegates". Maryland State Board of Elections.
  27. ^ Bohnel, Steve (April 19, 2022). "10 candidates make the case for filling District 18 ballot vacancy". MoCo360. Retrieved July 24, 2023.
  28. ^ Schere, Dan (April 20, 2022). "Democratic Central Committee chooses member Aaron Kaufman to fill District 18 vacancy on primary ballot". MoCo360. Retrieved July 24, 2023.
  29. ^ a b Kornbluh, Jacob (July 24, 2023). "Joel Rubin, who worked in Jewish outreach for Bernie Sanders and Joe Biden, launches bid for U.S. House seat". The Forward. Retrieved July 24, 2023.
  30. ^ Bixby, Ginny (December 18, 2023). "Speed dating in District 6: Voters get personal with Democratic congressional candidates". MoCo360. Retrieved December 18, 2023.
  31. ^ Pagnucco, Adam (March 6, 2024). "Rubin Drops Out, Endorses Delaney". Montgomery Perspective. Retrieved March 6, 2024.
  32. ^ Mullins, Patti Borda (February 25, 2016). "U.S. House race: Rubin says 'inside' government experience is significant". Frederick News-Post. Retrieved August 28, 2023.
  33. ^ Peck, Louis (November 10, 2015). "Local Version Of 'Undercard' Forum Features Three Democrats Seeking Congressional Nod". MoCo360. Retrieved July 24, 2023.
  34. ^ Turque, Bill (January 28, 2016). "GOP, Democratic hopefuls in Md. 8th Congressional District make joint appearance". The Washington Post. Retrieved July 24, 2023.
  35. ^ Metcalf, Andrew (October 13, 2017). "Town of Chevy Chase Votes Against Providing Money to Group Behind Purple Line Lawsuits". MoCo360. Retrieved July 24, 2023.
  36. ^ Boorstein, Michelle (May 21, 2021). "Jewish American groups appeal to Biden White House after string of antisemitic attacks related to Israel". The Washington Post. Retrieved July 24, 2023.
  37. ^ Bixby, Ginny (October 31, 2023). "How do Maryland's Sixth Congressional District candidates think the Israel-Hamas crisis should be handled?". MoCo360. Retrieved November 1, 2023.
  38. ^ "WEDDINGS/CELEBRATIONS; Nilmini Gunaratne, Joel Rubin". The New York Times. September 21, 2003. Retrieved July 24, 2023.
  39. ^ Rodgers, Bethany (October 5, 2017). "Chevy Chase Fourth-Grader Issues Challenge To Color Inside Congressional District Lines". MoCo360. Retrieved July 24, 2023.
  40. ^ Turque, Bill (April 5, 2016). "Five things to know about congressional candidate Joel Rubin". The Washington Post. Retrieved July 24, 2023.