Wynn and Edwards Change Tacks in Democratic Race

Maryland's Fourth Congressional District
Maryland's Fourth Congressional District
SOURCE: | The Washington Post - February 06, 2008
By Rosalind S. Helderman
Washington Post Staff Writer
Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Entering the closing days of the vigorous Democratic campaign for Maryland's 4th Congressional District seat, Rep. Albert R. Wynn and leading opponent Donna F. Edwards have shifted their campaign tactics.

Wynn has gone on the offensive against Edwards, accusing the lawyer in increasingly strong terms of being the tool of out-of-state interests that are pouring money into the race to buy her a seat.

"You have someone campaigning as a so-called reformer who is engaging in all kinds of devious activity," he said in a recent conference call with reporters to highlight the issue.

Edwards, who had spent months accusing Wynn of being a corporate ally out of step with his district, is emphasizing her experiences as a struggling single mother as a reason voters in the district, which includes parts Prince George's and Montgomery counties, should choose her in Tuesday's primary.

"I'm passionate about this stuff because I've lived it," she said recently, noting that she went two years without health care after separating from her husband and was sometimes unable to pay bills.

Edwards's TV ads still take aim at the eight-term congressman for accepting corporate money. Her effort has also been buoyed by more than $1 million spent by independent groups such as the Service Employees International Union and the League of Conservation Voters on mail and TV ads that are almost entirely negative about Wynn.

In one ad bought by the union and aired widely last weekend, Wynn appears in an unflattering black-and-white photo. "Al Wynn's changed. Now we need a change," the voice-over says.

Wynn also continues to emphasize his core message, saying he has provided pragmatic and effective leadership for the district. At a debate Monday night, he reminded voters of local projects funded with federal money that he has secured. He also highlighted legislative achievements including the creation of grants for home heating and the addition of reimbursement for dental care to the federal program for low-income children.

"I've tried to run a positive campaign," he told the crowd.

But, in the increasingly bitter contest, Wynn has also been taking aim more frequently at Edwards. His campaign filed a complaint last week with the Federal Election Commission, accusing her of illegally coordinating her effort with groups supporting her election. He said it is unlikely to be considered by the FEC before Election Day.

On Monday, his campaign accused her of "hypocrisy" for criticizing his fundraising while accepting contributions from people who work as lobbyists, as well as the former chief executive of a chemical business, the head of an oil company and the heirs of the R.J. Reynolds tobacco fortune.

In a debate yesterday held by News Channel 8, Wynn accused Edwards of being an "obstructionist" and delaying the Prince George's National Harbor development and Woodrow Wilson Bridge expansion. She responded that she worked with community organizations to improve the projects.

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