Elections 2008

Edwards Wins Election to Congress

Donna F. Edwards (D) won a special election against Peter James (R), becoming the first black woman elected to Congress from the state of Maryland.
By Rosalind S. Helderman and James Hohmann
Washington Post Staff Writers
Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Democrat Donna F. Edwards was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives by voters in Montgomery and Prince George's counties yesterday, becoming the first black woman selected to serve Maryland in Congress.

Edwards, 49, a lawyer and nonprofit executive from Fort Washington, defeated Republican Peter James and Libertarian Thibeaux Lincecum in a contest marked by exceptionally low turnout at the polls. Edwards will replace eight-term Rep. Albert R. Wynn (D), whom she defeated in a primary election in February.

"We're going to go in and just get to work," she told a crowd of about 100 supporters last night at a victory party in Lanham, including House Majority Leader Steny H. Hoyer (D-Md.) "I'm going to move in quickly, as soon as they give me the keys."

She told the crowd she will be sworn in tomorrow. The voter turnout appeared to be less than 5 percent, but Edwards's most ardent supporters made sure she had their support.

"She's a go-getter, and she stayed positive," said Willette Woods, 28, who cast a vote for Edwards at Largo High School. "She really seems like she's about positive change."

Wynn, after losing to Edwards by 22 percentage points, resigned from Congress on May 31. Edwards will now fill out the remainder of his term, serving until January. Edwards and James will face each other again in the November election for the next two-year term.

Montgomery and Prince George's elections officials said the election would cost $1.05 million to $1.25 million, an expense to be borne by taxpayers of the two counties.

Edwards defeated Wynn by claiming that he had become beholden to corporate interests and voted with Republicans on authorizing the use of force in Iraq and other key issues.

She was supported by an enthusiastic national network of liberal-leaning bloggers and was endorsed by several leading progressive organizations including Emily's List, which backs female candidates for office, the Sierra Club, and the League of Conservation Voters.

The groups joined the Service Employees International Union in a $1.5 million independent effort in support of Edwards over Wynn. Edwards's campaign also spent close to $1 million to get her message out to voters.

She also received a boost from voters looking for change in a primary dominated in Maryland by presidential candidate Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.). Edwards will now replace Wynn as a superdelegate to the Democratic National Convention in August. Like Wynn, Edwards has said she will vote for Obama.

James, meanwhile, only recently raised the $5,000 necessary to require him to register his fundraising efforts with the Federal Election Commission. James, a high-tech developer from Germantown, earned his party's nomination in part because of his affiliation Rep. Ron Paul (R-Tex.), a former presidential candidate with whom he shares libertarian principles.

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