The Washington PostDemocracy Dies in Darkness

Donna Edwards challenges Chris Van Hollen to six debates

Left: Rep. Donna Edwards. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite, File) Right: Rep. Chris Van Hollen (Staff Photo). (TWP)

Rep. Donna Edwards (D-Md.) is challenging her Democratic primary rival for Maryland’s open Senate seat to six debates, starting with one in Baltimore.

“We owe it to Marylanders to pursue a level of spirited discourse that raises expectations and challenges each of us to stand before the voters and discuss our differences,” she said in a letter to Rep. Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.).

She wants the debates to start in November in Baltimore and after that spread across the state. She also asked that all debates be live-streamed online, that two be televised and one be broadcast on radio in both the Baltimore and D.C. media markets, and that one be hosted by the black press.

Van Hollen responded with his own letter, saying he "is happy to have our respective campaigns discuss a debate plan." On Thursday, he said, he was occupied with a Democratic leadership meeting to discuss a possible government shutdown and with his push for new gun laws.

The two House members vying for the seat being left open by retiring Sen. Barbara A. Mikulski (D) have yet to debate, although they did appear together at a National Organization for Women forum this year. Rep. Elijah E. Cummings (D-Md.) has not yet said whether he too will enter the race.

Edwards and her allies have repeatedly attacked Van Hollen as a “Wall Street Democrat,” while he has suggested that she would be an ineffective senator.

Van Hollen is far better funded than Edwards, although neither campaign has yet released fundraising numbers for the past three months. While Van Hollen can spend heavily on ads in both Baltimore and the expensive D.C. area, Edwards will need to rely more on public appearances and the media.