When Prince George’s County Executive Rushern L. Baker III endorsed the Senate candidacy of U.S. Rep. Chris Van Hollen (D) last week, it triggered a discussion about race.
On Wednesday, a group of politicians in the county threw their support behind the candidacy of U.S. Rep. Donna F. Edwards (D), sparking a conversation about gender.
Van Hollen, of Montgomery County, and Edwards, of Prince George’s, are running to succeed retiring U.S. Sen. Barbara Mikulski (D), the longest-serving woman in Congress.
“I want strong women role models. I want more women in the Senate. I want women who understand, like Donna does, the issues like pay equity,” said Prince George’s County council member Mary A. Lehman (D-Laurel), who was joined in her endorsement by male and female council colleagues. “I want women like her setting the example for all women, but especially for my daughters.”
Women hold five of the nine seats on the Prince George’s County council. Their network of support is rooted in part in sororities and other women’s organizations that are active in county politics.
On Wednesday, four of the women and three male colleagues declared their support for Edwards at an event at Prince George’s County Community College. The fifth female council member, Deni Taveras (D-Adelphi), has endorsed Van Hollen.
Edwards’s backers described her as “tough,” “unapologetic” and “fearless” — words that have been used to describe Mikulski — and praised the work she has done in her majority-African American district.
They encouraged voters to seize the opportunity to make history, noting that there is no black woman currently serving in the Senate.
Edwards “is not afraid to stand up and fight for people who look like me,” said council member Andrea Harrison (D-Springdale). “And if you haven’t noticed, I’m a black woman.”
Edwards pointed to her personal history as a single working mother and familiarity with issues affecting families as a qualification for the Senate. She was recently endorsed by the only African American woman ever elected to the Senate, Carol Moseley Braun.
“I’m going to go out there. I’m going to work hard. I’m going to earn those votes no matter who else is in this race for Senate,” Edwards said.