Rep. Donna F. Edwards (D-Md.) has declined interview requests since losing a heated Senate primary to Rep. Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.) last month.
But she made her views known Tuesday in a first-person essay published on Cosmopolitan magazine’s website, in which she described her 15-point loss as her hitting a “glass ceiling for black women with a concussion-worthy crash.”
Her essay largely mirrors her fiery election-night speech, in which Edwards accused the state Democratic Party of sidelining women and people of color, and dismissing candidates such as her who raise it as an issue.
“I believe the real divide that we must come to terms with in American politics is the shocking extent to which America’s elected bodies, from governor’s mansions, to state legislatures, to the U.S. Senate, do not resemble the American electorate in income, race, or gender,” Edwards wrote, citing data from the Campaign for Reflective Democracy showing that white men make up 31 percent of the population but hold 65 percent of elective offices.
The Prince George’s County congresswoman, who gave up her House seat to run for the Senate, hinted that a shake-up could be necessary if Maryland ends up with its first all-male congressional delegation in 43 years.
The retirement of Sen. Barbara A. Mikulski (D-Md.), the longest-serving woman in Congress, and the departure of Edwards in January, mean there will be no female incumbents on the November ballot. Female Democrats who ran to succeed Edwards and Van Hollen in Congress were defeated in the April 26 primary. And although women won the GOP nominations for the Senate and for Maryland’s 6th Congressional District seat, both of those candidates — state Del. Kathy Szeliga and Amie Hoeber — are considered underdogs in a state where registered Democrats outnumber registered Republicans more than 2 to 1.
“We must be honest about the depth of the problem in order to unloose the structural barriers that contribute to it — the money, the process, the lineage,” Edwards wrote. “It may require some to simply step aside.”
Edwards, whose candidacy received major support from the Democratic pro-choice group Emily’s List, also talked about race, arguing that the Democratic Party cannot survive in the 21st century “without the real leadership of people of color, especially black women, at every level.”
She said Democrats should not be complacent about female representation even if Hillary Clinton wins the presidency, so long as men continue to hold a disproportionate share of elective offices. “We are neither post-racial nor post-gender,” she wrote.
Edwards relied on national female-oriented news media during her campaign. She did an interview with Lena Dunham’s newsletter Lenny and a live show of the podcast “Call Your Girlfriend,” and she penned an op-ed in Glamour.
Rachel Weiner contributed to this report.