Progressives rally behind Donna Edwards for Maryland Senate
© Greg Nash

Progressive groups are teaming up to rally supporters to back Rep. Donna EdwardsDonna F. EdwardsDemocratic Senate candidate blasts own party for racial 'foghorn' Autoworkers' union endorsing Van Hollen in MD Senate race Dem leaders' hard sell pays off on omnibus MORE (D-Md.) in a potential run for Senate in 2016 to replace retiring Sen. Barbara MikulskiBarbara Ann MikulskiDems ponder gender politics of 2020 nominee Robert Mueller's forgotten surveillance crime spree Clinton: White House slow-walking Russia sanctions MORE (D-Md.). 

Democracy for America (DFA) and the Progressive Change Campaign Committee (PCCC) petitioned followers on Tuesday to support Edwards in the wide-open field of potential Democratic contenders that could be considering a run for Senate.

‘We want to honor Sen. Mikulski's legacy by making sure her seat is won by a progressive champion,” said the email from DFA, which called Edwards “a true Elizabeth Warren Democrat and exactly the kind of voice progressives need more of in the Senate.”

Edwards is a fresh face for the party who became a favorite among progressives after she knocked off a longtime Democrat in 2008. The PCCC email highlighted Edwards’ victory over “a Wall Street Democrat.”

“Since joining Congress, Donna Edwards has gone to the mat for working families in Congress time and time again,” the DFA said. “She was the first member of Congress to introduce a bill to overturn Citizens United, and she was a leading advocate in the House for the Violence Against Women Act.”

Edwards’s district has been redrawn to have a more conservative bent, potentially making a statewide run more appealing to her. An email to her office for comment about a potential Senate run has not been returned.

In addition to Edwards, Democratic strategists are mentioning nearly every name from the Maryland Democratic delegation in the House as a potential Senate contender, including Reps. Chris Van HollenChristopher (Chris) Van HollenDems pan Trump's budget as helping the wealthy Senate Dems push FDA to reject alternative cigarette health claims Trump must send Russia powerful message through tougher actions MORE, John Delaney, Dutch Ruppersberger, Elijah Cummings and John Sarbanes.

Van Hollen is believed to have had his eyes on a Senate seat for some time, and he’d be a formidable opponent with about $1.7 million in his campaign account.

But the list of potential candidates extends outside the House, and includes Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake, Labor Secretary Tom Perez, former state Lt. Gov. Anthony Brown, and former Maryland attorney general Doug Gansler.

“Many Democratic politicians are already expressing interest in this Senate seat,” DFA said. "We want to make sure that all of the best possible candidates are considered…If Donna Edwards gets into the race, she will need strong grassroots support. Do you want Donna Edwards to run for Senate?”

The email links to a two-question survey asking supporters if they think Edwards should run and if they would join a “Draft Edwards” movement.

Republicans hope to compete for Senate in the traditionally blue state in 2016. In the last cycle, the GOP pulled a huge upset when Republican Larry Hogan defeated then-Lt. Gov. Anthony Brown in the gubernatorial race.

Republicans have a similarly large field of potential contenders, led by former Gov. Bob Erhlich. Potential GOP presidential contender Ben Carson, former Republican National Committee Chairman Michael Steele, Rep. Andy Harris, Anne Arundel County Executive Steve Schuh, current Maryland Lt. Gov. Boyd Rutherford and Dan Bongino, a former Secret Service agent who lost a Senate bid in 2012 and House bid in 2014, have also been mentioned as potential candidates.