Donna Edwards

Monday, August 16, 2010

FINISHING HER first full term in the House representing Maryland's 4th Congressional District, Rep. Donna F. Edwards is an unapologetic liberal of the old school. She is a champion of labor unions, a skeptic on free trade and a doubter when it comes to projecting American force overseas. We may not always agree with her, but we admire the energy, hard work and intelligence that informs her work as a legislator. She deserves another term in Congress, which she will surely have if she wins the Sept. 14 Democratic primary.

The 4th District, which includes most of Prince George's County and a chunk of eastern Montgomery County, is one of the nation's most liberal. Both Ms. Edwards and Barack Obama won about 85 percent of the vote there in 2008. Ms. Edwards may be on the left fringe of her own party, but there's little to indicate she's out of step with the voters in the 4th.

Nor is there much in the way of serious opposition to her candidacy. Only one of Ms. Edwards's three rivals in the primary, Herman L. Taylor II, a lawmaker representing Montgomery County in the Maryland House of Delegates, is even remotely credible in terms of experience. Unfortunately for him, Mr. Taylor has presented voters with virtually no rationale for his candidacy. He seems to have no disagreement with Ms. Edwards on policy beyond needling her for backing a raise in congressional pay. His grasp of foreign policy is impressionistic at best, and his achievements as a state lawmaker are modest.

By contrast, Donna Edwards is a tough-minded advocate. She has pressed to give state regulators more power to review insurance premium increases and to expand meal subsidies for children from low-income families. She has drawn attention to the slaughter in Darfur by getting herself arrested at the Sudanese embassy and to Washington's neglect of Prince George's County as a venue for federal office leases. Not least, she has raised the issue of human rights abuses in the Arab world even as the Obama administration has downplayed them.

Two other suburban Maryland Democrats, Rep. Steny H. Hoyer, the House majority leader, and Rep. Chris Van Hollen, chairman of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, face only nominal primary opposition. Along with those two, Ms. Edwards is the newest member of an exceptionally effective troika whose work in Congress is likely to pay dividends for Montgomery and Prince George's voters for years to come.

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