Why Donna Edwards' Victory Matters

While Al Wynn was uniquely unreliable as a Democratic incumbent, Donna Edwards was uniquely extraordinary as a Democratic challenger.
I received an email recently from a friend of mine with a reasonable question: why is it that so many Dems are so worked up about the Democratic primary fight in Maryland's 4th congressional district? He could understand people in the area showing an interest, but the contest between incumbent Rep. Al Wynn (D) and challenger Donna Edwards (D) had captured the attention of bloggers and activists across the country. What's the big deal?

TNR's Jonathan Chait summarized the point nicely today.
Last year I wrote a column ... about how significant elements of the Congressional Black Caucus had been corrupted by K Street, and advocated measures like estate tax repeal or the bankrputcy bill that harm their own constituents. The most egregious case by far was Maryland's Al Wynn, who has evolved into a virtual appendage of the business lobby. One of the people I interviewed for the column was Donna Edwards, a good-government liberal who challenged Wynn in the primary two years ago, and again yesterday.
Edwards won a resounding victory. Hopefully Wynn's defeat will be a useful example to Democrats everywhere that there is a price to be paid for following K Street over the interest of the country or their own constituents.
Was Wynn really that bad? Without question. He partnered with right-wing crooks like Bob Ney to oppose campaign-finance reform; he partnered with right-wing lobbyists on the estate tax; he partnered with right-wing lawmakers on the ridiculous bankruptcy bill; and he partnered with right-wing hedge-fund managers on the private equity tax break. It wasn't just corporate lobbyists, either -- Wynn also voted with Bush on Iraq and tax cuts for the wealthy.

What's more, while Wynn was uniquely unreliable as a Democratic incumbent, Donna Edwards was uniquely extraordinary as a Democratic challenger.

When Edwards defeated Wynn yesterday -- as she did, decisively -- it marked an important milestone for the party.
Steve Benen is a freelance writer/researcher and creator of The Carpetbagger Report. In addition, he is the lead editor of's Blog Report, and has been a contributor to Talking Points Memo, Washington Monthly, Crooks & Liars, The American Prospect, and the Guardian.
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