A group of influential Hispanic and women's rights organizations committed $100,000 Thursday to the campaign of Joseline Peña-Melnyk, a former federal prosecutor running to replace outgoing Rep. Donna Edwards.

Edwards, a Democrat, is pursuing the Maryland Senate seat being left vacant by retiring Sen. Barbara MikulskiBarbara Ann MikulskiLobbying World Only four Dem senators have endorsed 2020 candidates Only four Dem senators have endorsed 2020 candidates MORE (D).


The groups supporting Dominican-born Peña-Melnyk's Congressional campaign — the Latino Victory Fund, CHC BOLD PAC, and EMILY’s List’s voter mobilization and education project, WOMEN VOTE! — have so far committed $250,000.

 “Joseline is a hard-working leader with an impressive public service career who has fought for Maryland’s working families and for an inclusive community. She is a fearless individual who will speak up for what is right and work tirelessly to deliver for her constituents," said Rep. Tony Cárdenas (D-Calif.), Chairman of CHC BOLD PAC.

César Blanco, political director of the Latino Victory Fund, said, "We are proud to support her and help elect the first Dominican to Congress."

Peña-Melnyk faces stiff opposition for the coveted seat.

The front-runner for the Democratic nomination is Anthony Brown, former lieutenant governor under then-Gov. Martin O'Malley and a colonel in the U.S. Army Reserve.

Brown sought to succeed O'Malley in 2014 but suffered a surprise defeat in the governor's race to Republican Larry Hogan.

Also running are Glenn Ivey, a well-known former state's attorney; Warren Christopher, a former Marine lieutenant colonel who challenged Edwards in the 2014 primary; and former U.S. Census Bureau statistician Terence Strait.

Peña-Melnyk, a nine-year state delegate, won a glowing endorsement from The Washington Post in March. The endorsement said Peña-Melnyk "lacks the name recognition of her main rivals for the nomination" but that "no one in the state legislature works harder."

“Joseline Peña-Melnyk understands the challenges Maryland families face and has spent her entire career fighting to expand opportunities for all,” said EMILY’s List Executive Director Jessica O’Connell. “Joseline’s voice as an immigrant, as a public defender and prosecutor, and as a legislator who has stood up to special interests is absolutely needed in Congress today, which is why we are thrilled to partner with the Latino Victory Fund and CHC BOLD PAC to help make Joseline Peña-Melnyk Maryland’s next congresswoman.”

The district's Republican field is also crowded ahead of the April 26 primary, with four contenders.

Maryland's 4th Congressional District, which covers parts of Prince George's and Anne Arundel counties, has been held by Democrats since 1986. Democratic candidates have won every House election since 1992 with more than 70 percent of the vote.