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Opinion The Post endorses Glenn Ivey for Maryland’s 4th District Democratic primary

Glenn Ivey gathers with volunteers before spreading out to neighborhoods as he campaigns for the open seat in Maryland's 4th Congressional District, in Largo on March 6. (Bill O'Leary/The Washington Post)

In Maryland’s solidly Democratic 4th Congressional District, anchored in Prince George’s County, the party’s primary this summer is a contest between two relatively well-known “formers.” It pits former representative Donna F. Edwards, running to regain the seat she held from 2008 to 2017, against Prince George’s former top prosecutor, Glenn Ivey. Both are able, savvy, qualified candidates, but Mr. Ivey would make a more effective member of Congress. He has our endorsement.

Maryland’s newly drawn voting map left the 4th District even bluer than it was before, which is saying something. Whoever wins the party’s July 19 primary is a shoo-in to win the general election for a seat being vacated by Rep. Anthony Brown, a Democrat running for Maryland attorney general.

This contest does not turn on ideology. Both Mr. Ivey and Ms. Edwards are steadfast liberals, although there are shades of difference between them, their stances on Israel being one. (Mr. Ivey, generally supportive, has received major donations facilitated by the political action committee of the main pro-Israel lobby, the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC). Ms. Edwards has at times tilted toward the Palestinians.) Both support expanded health-care coverage and paid family leave; an array of steps to promote gun control and police accountability; and tough measures to grapple with climate change.

Both are forthright advocates. In previous races, we have endorsed each of them. The telling difference, based on their records, is that Mr. Ivey has a track record of advancing his agenda through pragmatic, effective head-knocking and compromise. By contrast, Ms. Edwards, her policy expertise notwithstanding, has too often insisted on a purist political approach — statements of principle untethered from getting things done. (She is also a former Post contributing columnist.)

It’s useful to revisit Mr. Ivey’s highly successful tenure as the state’s attorney in Prince George’s, one of the state’s biggest prosecutor’s offices. Over eight years in the job, through 2010, Mr. Ivey overhauled an outfit left in shambles by his predecessor and turned it into an effective, reform-minded office. He made a priority of domestic abuse, seeking tough sentences for abusers and highlighting the problem in the county; established programs to divert first offenders rather than lock them up for minor crimes, and to help ex-offenders reenter society after incarceration; and launched aggressive prosecutions against violent gangs, police officers who used excessive force and mortgage fraudsters.

Nor is Mr. Ivey a stranger to operating effectively on Capitol Hill, which he learned firsthand, before running for office, as a senior aide to key members of Congress. His breadth of experience would be an asset for the district, whose agenda includes a long-term effort to land a new campus for the FBI to replace its antiquated, crumbling downtown headquarters.

No one doubts Ms. Edwards’s intelligence, integrity and idealism. Yet during her eight years on the Hill, she sometimes antagonized colleagues in Congress, including by spurning hard-fought compromises that fellow Democrats had negotiated. Those included trade deals and a bill to expand financial disclosure for corporate spending on political campaigns. Many colleagues, including members of the Congressional Black Caucus, declined to support her in unsuccessful races for the U.S. Senate, in 2016, and county executive of Prince George’s, in 2018. Her congressional office was widely regarded as unresponsive to constituents who needed help, a problem that, to her credit, she has pledged to correct if reelected.

In Mr. Ivey, the 4th District has a better choice.

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