Four local unions representing thousands of Prince George's County hotel, food, retail and public-sector workers endorsed former congresswoman Donna F. Edwards on Thursday in the race to become the next county executive.
Edwards (D), who represented parts of Prince George's in the U.S. House for two terms before running unsuccessfully for U.S. Senate last year, was initially reluctant to jump into the race to succeed Rushern L. Baker III (D) as the county government chief. But union leaders, including the ones endorsing her candidacy, helped persuade her to run.
"I know it may have taken me a little bit of time to make a decision about whether I can make a contribution to the county," said Edwards, who launched her campaign in early October. The former community activist vowed Thursday not to take money from developers for her campaign. "I am running not just to run but to deliver," she said.
In the Democratic primary in June, Edwards will face state Sen. C. Anthony Muse and Prince George's state's attorney Angela Alsobrooks, both of whom are well-known and deeply embedded in the local political culture. In the heavily Democratic county, winning the primary is tantamount to winning the general election.
Union leaders from two United Food and Commercial Workers chapters, the Laborers' International Union of North America and Unite Here Local 25 say Edwards will disrupt the status quo of Prince George's politics, challenge the influence of real estate developers on local government and advocate for the issues important to working families and labor interests.
"Edwards will do the right thing, and she is not afraid to go against party leadership to get it done," said Gino Renne, president of UFCW Local 1994 MCGEO.
These unions have been loyal Edwards supporters since her first successful congressional campaign in 2008 and declined to endorse a candidate in the Senate faceoff between her and U.S. Sen. Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.) in 2016.
Among the top priority for labor leaders is to bring a $15 living wage to Prince George's, better policies for earned sick and paid leave, and greater transparency and accountability in the public school system.