Wynn’s primary challenger files to resurrect upstart candidacy

Democrat Donna Edwards, who narrowly lost to Rep. Albert Wynn (D-Md.) in a 2006 primary challenge, officially signed up for a rematch last week when she filed a statement of candidacy for the 2008 race.

After a brief campaign, Edwards shocked almost everyone by losing by fewer than 3,000 votes, 50 percent to 46, in September. She begins her 2008 bid nine months before Maryland’s new Feb. 12 primary with a goal of raising $1 million and putting together a better campaign organization.

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She already has done something she didn’t last cycle — hire a campaign manager. Adrienne Christian, who was deputy campaign manager for now-Sen. Jim Webb (D-Va.), joined Edwards’s campaign full-time in mid-April.

Edwards said she has spent the eight months since the primary attending community meetings in the 4th district and gauging support for another bid against Wynn.

She said a formal announcement is likely to be set for May, and she will leave her job as executive director of the Washington-based Arca Foundation around Labor Day to campaign full-time.

“I was trying to figure out if this was just a flash in the pan and wake-up call or there’s a real call for change,” Edwards said. “I wouldn’t have filed if I hadn’t thought it was a real call for change.”

Edwards was able to make it a close race last cycle in large part by focusing on Wynn’s vote in favor of giving President Bush the authority to go to war in Iraq.

Wynn, an eighth-term congressman who cruised through the general election, has said the primary result took him by surprise, and he has upped his community outreach as part of an effort to shore up support among the disaffected.

He also has wasted no time getting started raising money. In the first quarter, he pulled in about $130,000.

Edwards emphasized that the race was about more than Wynn’s Iraq war vote and said his recent changes won’t fool people.

“I know that Mr. Wynn is flying right on a lot of things these days, but we can’t ignore the fact that a significant reason for that is because I challenged him,” Edwards said.

The race puts the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC) in a tough spot, because it must decide whether to support Wynn in the primary.

The DCCC did not commit to supporting Wynn, but spokeswoman Kyra Jennings said, “The DCCC has a long-standing policy of supporting our incumbent members.”

Edwards raised just less than $350,000 last cycle, while Wynn raised about $800,000 — most of it before the primary.
Christian said the Edwards campaign has held two small house parties and has fundraisers in Washington and New York planned.

Edwards aims to raise more local money this time, but she also has made inroads with grassroots groups. She received late help from MoveOn.org’s political action committee last year and has gotten involved with the board of They Work For Us, a nonprofit group designed to keep Democratic members of Congress from straying too far from the party’s ideals.

But she might not have Wynn all to herself this time around, as several other politicians in the Prince George’s County area have been rumored to be considering bids.

Edwards said she isn’t paying attention to other candidates and won’t back down.

“When I decided to run, most of those same people said to me it will be impossible to beat him,” Edwards said. “The fact that I opened the door means that I want to walk through it, and I’m not going to let somebody else do it.”