4th Congressional District

Edwards Runs Tough Race Against Wynn

Rep. Albert R. Wynn (D-Md.)
Rep. Albert R. Wynn (D-Md.) (Melina Mara/twp - Twp)
By Ovetta Wiggins
Washington Post Staff Writer
Saturday, September 9, 2006

Rep. Albert R. Wynn (D-Md.) has not faced formidable opposition since he was elected in 1992. He has trounced challengers, returning to office with no less than 80 percent of the vote in a primary or general election.

But Wynn is facing the political challenge of his career in Tuesday's Democratic primary against Donna Edwards, a lawyer and community activist who has mounted a vigorous and well-organized campaign to represent Maryland's 4th Congressional District.

Edwards drew little attention when she filed campaign papers in April to run against Wynn, but she has raised her profile in part with the help of Internet bloggers, who support her positions on the environment, campaign finance reform and Iraq. Edwards opposes the war; Wynn voted for the resolution authorizing it.

Connecticut businessman Ned Lamont's Democratic primary defeat of longtime incumbent Sen. Joseph I. Lieberman -- a vocal supporter of the Iraq war -- boosted enthusiasm about Edwards's campaign among bloggers. She continued to hammer Wynn on his vote to go to war in Iraq, calling the seven-term incumbent "Maryland's Joe Lieberman."

Wynn says he was misled by the Bush administration and notes that he was not the only Democrat who was. He has apologized for the vote and now believes the troops should be withdrawn.

"My opponent will say, 'Knowing what I know now, I wouldn't have voted for [the war],' " said Edwards during a recent NAACP candidates forum. "Well, sorry is just too late."

Wynn has spent little time campaigning in past elections but has increased his number of public appearances in his district, which includes parts of Prince George's and Montgomery counties. And he said he is "reaching deep into the playbook" as the campaign goes into the final stretch.

"We take this campaign very seriously," Wynn said. "But let's not make it seem like I'm campaigning against the second coming of Huey Long."

Edwards is a newcomer to Maryland politics. She has worked on Capitol Hill as a lobbyist for groups such as the Center for a New Democracy, where she was the executive director. On a national level, she has pushed for funding for domestic violence victims and reforming the campaign finance system. Locally, she and a community activist group fought against the building of National Harbor, a multibillion dollar resort along the Potomac River, until developers agreed to add a residential component to the project. She has received endorsements from Progressive Democrats of America, the Sierra Club and the National Organization for Women's political action committee.

"I'm not in this as a joke, and I'm not in this to make a statement," Edwards recently told a group of residents during a meet-and-greet at a Mitchellville home. "I'm in this to win it."

Edwards supports a withdrawal from Iraq but has declined to say what the timetable should be. She wants to raise the minimum wage and thinks the country's energy policy should be weaned off of fossil fuels.

But the cornerstone of her campaign is portraying Wynn as out of step with the district's voters.

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