U.S. Rep. Donna Edwards and Montgomery County Council member Valerie Ervin waded into a contentious congressional primary Thursday, throwing their weight behind financier John Delaney’s campaign.

Delaney is locked in a tough fight with state Senate Majority Leader Rob Garagiola (Montgomery), Air Force doctor Milad Pooran and a handful of other candidates for the Democratic nomination to challenge Rep. Roscoe Bartlett (R).

“John has the intellect, independence, and core values to be a true leader in Congress,” Edwards (D-Md.) said.

Ervin (D-Silver Spring) predicted that Delaney would be “an independent voice” for Montgomery.

The primary is April 3.

The congressional district was redrawn to add western Montgomery County, making it a pickup opportunity for Democrats. Edwards and Ervin (Silver Spring) were both publicly opposed to the new congressional map, which removed Montgomery County from Edwards’s district and, they said, failed to give the increasingly diverse county a chance to be represented by a minority lawmaker.

The new seat was widely seen as having been drawn by Annapolis Democrats to favor Garagiola, who has picked up the endorsements of Reps. Steny Hoyer, Elijah Cummings and Dutch Ruppersberger as well as several state Legislators. Delaney has the backing of former President Bill Clinton and Comptroller Peter Franchot, among others.

Reps. Chris Van Hollen and John Sarbanes, the two lawmakers who represent the remainder of Montgomery County under the new map, have remained neutral.

In this race, Edwards is splitting with her traditional close allies in organized labor and on the left, as several major unions and liberal groups have endorsed Garagiola.

“John and I share a commitment to strengthening the prospects for working families who deserve fair wages, decent benefits, and the opportunity to enjoy the American Dream,” Edwards said.