Asked at a community meeting about Question 7 — the highly contested ballot measure, which is backed by the Democratic establishment from the governor on down — Edwards did not hold back.
“I am against Question 7,” she said. Gaming is not the answer for a county that has struggled to overcome political corruption, low student achievement and a dearth of high-paying jobs, she said.
Next up was U.S. Sen. Benjamin L. Cardin (D-Md.), also running for reelection. His views on gaming? “I am not going to say,” Cardin said.
Edwards is accustomed to being on the outside looking in, and most of the time, that has worked for her. But it has not sat well with some Democrats in Maryland who have grumbled that Edwards has alienated many of her colleagues and should do more to repair the relationships.
When the General Assembly completed its redistricting plan this year, legislators took away Edwards’s strong backing in eastern Montgomery County and gave her about 250,000 residents in Anne Arundel County, where the GOP can count on support. She also represents a large chunk of Prince George’s County, but her allies believe that the redrawn district was designed to weaken her.
Edwards, who is seeking her third full term, faces Faith Loudon, an Anne Arundel Republican, community activist and legislative aide in the General Assembly. Edwards is expected to easily win reelection and has been meeting regularly with her new constituents to make sure they know her and she knows them.
“I am really straightforward about everything. Frankly, that is something people have come to expect of me, even if they don’t necessarily share my viewpoint,” Edwards said in an interview.
The state’s focus for Prince George’s should be on expanding science and technology and the businesses they can spawn, said Edwards, who has worked for nonprofits and was a NASA contractor.
She fought alongside Del. Aisha N. Braveboy (D-Prince George’s) to try to undo the redistricting plan. It is now on the November ballot, partly because of the efforts of Republicans who are unhappy with the map, which critics from both parties say makes Maryland the most gerrymandered state in the nation.
Edwards’s close friend since childhood, Valerie Ervin, a Democratic Montgomery County Council member, said the fight bruised Edwards but alerted her to challenges within the party.
“Donna is willing to put herself out there on the issues that matter, not just to her and the people she represents. That is very threatening to the status quo,” Ervin said.