Just one day after former Rep. Donna Edwards announced her plan to represent the 4th Congressional District, she had raised more than $100,000.
“I am humbled by the outpouring of support we have received since joining the race,” she said in a statement Friday. “I’m running because our voices have not been heard, our families and workers have been left behind and our children have not been a priority. I want to fix that. I couldn’t sit on the sidelines anymore, I’m ready to go back to fighting for our country and using my Congressional seniority to deliver results for our district on day one.”
Edwards, elected in 2008, remains the first and only Black woman elected to represent Maryland on Capitol Hill in the district which encompasses nearly half of Prince George’s County and parts of Anne Arundel and Montgomery counties. The seat became open after Rep. Anthony Brown chose not to seek reelection and run for Maryland attorney general.
Edwards became diagnosed with multiple sclerosis [MS] in 2016 while campaigning for U.S. Senate against fellow Democrat and current Sen. Chris Van Hollen who won the seat two years later formerly held by longtime senator Barbara Mikulski.
“I feel great,” Edwards said in an interview the same day she officially declared her candidacy. “I probably had MS for about a decade before then. I worked every day and continued to work hard. I have more energy. I do television appearances three or four times a week. I advise philanthropy across the country.”
After the love for her son, public service remains in her heart. Her goals for the district include bringing federal resources from the bipartisan infrastructure bill quicker to the state with funding dedicated for water and sewer. She said it’s important to provide assistance to those impacted by flooding in one part of Prince George’s known as “South County” which routinely experiences high water on streets during heavy rains.
She also wants to battle the climate crisis, eliminate health care inequities and level the playing field for small business owners.
Before her tenure in Congress, Edwards worked as a lawyer and philanthropist and co-founded the National Network to End Domestic Violence. She helped lead the effort for lawmakers to pass the Violence Against Women Act in 1994.
While in Congress, she served on the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee which allowed her to promote funding for additional rail service to connect with the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority, also known as Metro.
She expressed disappointment that the Purple Line, approved to serve as an east-west light rail in Prince George’s and Montgomery counties, “has gone over budget and not been built on time.”
“But it will provide the connectivity [needed for so long] in this region,” she said.
Another of her main priorities, if elected, would be to relocate the FBI headquarters from D.C. to Prince George’s. She fought for the headquarters to come to Maryland which also garnered competition from neighboring Virginia.
The project stalled when Donald Trump became president and the proposal eliminated.
When Trump became president and her term expired, Edwards decided to travel for three months and 12,000 miles in a borrowed RV named “Lucille.”
In her campaign video named after the RV, she talked about meeting people across the country, discussed medication like insulin and the drugs she took for her treatment and “brought my perspective as a Black woman from Prince George’s County.”
The 63-year-old attorney made an unsuccessful run for county executive in 2018 but continued to talk about politics on national TV shows and wrote a column in a local newspaper.
She’ll have plenty of competition for the vacant seat with at least two formidable Democratic candidates: Del. Jazz Lewis (D-District 24) of Glenarden and Glenn Ivey, former Prince George’s County state’s attorney.
Ivey, 60, released a radio ad Thursday promoting his work as state’s attorney and the creation of a domestic-violence unit. Ivey hasn’t officially filed paperwork with the state but his campaign said he has raised more than $277,000 so far in donations from former and current federal, state and local officials.
Lewis, 32, received more than 40 endorsements from similar officials including his former boss, House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Maryland). According to a campaign finance report, Lewis has nearly $40,000 cash on hand.
During the 90-day legislative session in Annapolis, state lawmakers aren’t allowed to fundraise.
“I think it is good for the voters to have a choice and paint a contrast,” Lewis said. “We have the chance to choose a progressive leader to move us forward and not back.”
Former Del. Angela Angel of District Heights, a domestic violence survivor, also launched a campaign with plans to push for universal pre-kindergarten and improve the Pennsylvania Avenue corridor. Similar to Edwards, she wants to also fight to bring the FBI headquarters to Prince George’s.
As of Friday, Lewis and two other candidates have officially filed: James Levi Curtis Jr., a Democrat in Upper Marlboro, and George McDermott, a Republican from Forest Heights in Prince George’s.
More candidates will undoubtedly file before the Feb. 22 deadline.
Edwards believes her experience represents the best fit for the district.
“I can be a valued leader in furthering the interest of our congressional district and our state,” she said. “I want to stay focused on my record and looking forward to what our needs are and how I can be the strongest advocate in the field.”