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Pelosi endorses Donna Edwards in bid for her old seat in Maryland’s 4th

Donna F. Edwards during her run for Prince George's County executive in 2018. Edwards has been endorsed in her bid for Maryland's 4th District congressional seat by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.). (Cheryl Diaz Meyer for The Washington Post)
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House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is endorsing Donna F. Edwards in the Democratic primary in Maryland’s 4th Congressional District, where Edwards is mounting a comeback bid to win her old seat.

In arguably the state’s most-watched congressional primary, Edwards is in a competitive race in the Prince George’s County-anchored district against Glenn Ivey, the former Prince George’s state’s attorney. Edwards is seeking to leverage her experience and relationships as a former four-term congresswoman to win the nomination.

Pelosi, a California Democrat, played up her Maryland roots in announcing her endorsement of Edwards. Pelosi’s father represented Baltimore in Congress in the 1940s. Pelosi served with Edwards while Edwards was in Congress from 2008 until her term expired in January 2017, after she unsuccessfully sought the Democratic nomination for the Senate against Chris Van Hollen.

“Donna Edwards has been a proven, effective leader throughout her career and has the reputation and experience to ensure that Prince George’s County gets its fair share of federal investment from Day One, fight to protect Social Security and Medicare, take action on climate change and work to ensure that every Marylander has access to the affordable health care and medications they need,” Pelosi said in a statement. “As a native Marylander, I welcome the addition of a woman — particularly a woman of color — to my home state’s delegation.”

Pelosi’s endorsement follows several other high-profile nods Edwards has secured in recent days that could come with significant financial resources and grass-roots support — including from SEIU Local 500 and 1199SEIU, two significant Maryland labor unions made up of health-care workers and educators. The support from 1199SEIU is notable considering the union spent money opposing Edwards in her 2016 race against Van Hollen and opposed her again in her race for county executive in 2018.

In 2016, the union’s political director said union members were upset that Edwards supported the opening of a non-unionized hospital at the same time a unionized Laurel hospital was being downsized. The union also criticized Edwards’s constituent-services responsiveness, an issue that plagued her campaign that year.

Ricarra Jones, political director of 1199SEIU, said that as part of its interview process Edwards acknowledged shortcomings with her constituent services while in office and pledged to do better if elected.

“We’ve always had a great relationship with her even though we haven’t seen eye to eye on everything,” Jones said. “But she’s been a great vote on the issues. It’s just a much different race this time. … We wanted to see another woman back in Congress.”

A woman has not been part of Maryland’s congressional delegation since Edwards decided not to run for reelection in 2016 and lost to Van Hollen in the bid to replace retiring senator Barbara A. Mikulski (D).

A number of liberal groups are also backing Edwards, including the Progressive Change Campaign Committee. The organization tied its support for Edwards and other liberal candidates in part to the leak of the Supreme Court draft opinion suggesting that the court was ready to overturn Roe v. Wade — just one example of how abortion rights are likely to factor in congressional races. Edwards also has backing from Emily’s List, a political action committee that backs Democratic women who support abortion rights.

Ivey remains competitive with Edwards in fundraising, in part because of an infusion of cash from donors associated with the American Israel Public Affairs Committee PAC, which served as a conduit for supporters’ donations to Ivey. The PAC facilitated more than $158,000 in donations to him in the first quarter of the year, and both AIPAC and the Democratic Majority for Israel have endorsed Ivey.

Angela Angel, a former House delegate from Prince George’s, is also vying for the nomination.

The primary election is scheduled for July 19. In a district as deep blue as the 4th, Republican candidates typically do not stand much of a chance in November, meaning whoever wins the Democratic nomination will probably be going to Congress.

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