Maryland's Senate Race Demonstrates Exactly Why Primaries Are So Crucial
With all eyes focussed on the primaries in Wisconsin today-- although people should remember there is also a runoff for Milwaukee County Executive between billionaire/fake Dem Chris Abele and progressive champion Chris Larson-- this is also one week from the first day of early voting in Maryland, which has a crucial round of primaries 3 weeks from today. The most important House primaries are for the two seats being vacated by the two contestants for the open Senate seat. MD-08 pits progressive Jamie Raskin against two Big Money conservatives, some beer and wine billionaire and Chris Matthews' lobbyist wife. And MD-04, the seat Donna Edwards is giving up, needs to replace her with a candidate as staunchly progressive-- state legislator Joseline Peña-Melnyk. But the big one in Maryland, of course, is the classic fight-- progressive vs Wall Street-backed establishment-- for the Senate seat, pitting Donna Edwards against Chris Van Hollen. (Blue America has endorsed Donna, Joseline and Jamie and you can contribute to all three campaigns on the same ActBlue page here.)
I wanted to run the web spot above because Van Hollen and his easy-purchased allies have been running up and down the state claiming Donna doesn't care about her constituents. That's just another in the long, ugly list of Van Hollen lies and her constituents know better. Watch the clip.
The polling has been back and forth and always pretty close between the two candidates. Two weeks ago Donna was up by 10. Last week, Van Hollen released his own poll showing him up by 5. This is going to go right down to the wire. And it's one of the most important races in the country-- not if you think all that matters is D vs R, blue vs red. Donna and Van Hollen are both Democrats and either could easily win in November. But DWT readers well know that there is a difference between what is sometimes called the Elizabeth Warren wing of the party and the corporate wing that represents Thomas Frank's "top 10%" or profession class. Frank's explanation of what went wrong with the Democratic Party is a clear definition of Chris Van Hollen. Donna Edwards is the quintessential champion of working families and has been for as long as we've known her, going back years before she ever ran for Congress. Van Hollen is a garden variety Democrat who will bend with whichever wind blows strongest. He's a careerist who stands for nothing at all, except himself. Handed responsibility once before-- when Pelosi made the colossal error of appointing him DCCC chairman-- he promptly lost dozens and dozens of seats due to his own grotesque incompetence, wracked up the worst history of any DCCC chairman since James Rood Doolittle (who became a Republican), and handed the House majority over to John Boehner on a silver platter. And now, always the entitled one, he's back looking for another undeserved promotion!
Don Hazen and Jan Frel, writing for AlterNet and pointing out that, thanks to his Wall Street financiers, Van Hollen is outspending Donna ten to one, term the Maryland Senate race "a referendum on how progressive the Democratic Party will become." In that way, it's like the primary in Florida between progressive champion Alan Grayson and conservative ("ex"-Republican) Wall Street errand boy Patrick Murphy.
This Senate race has taken on national significance because Edwards, if elected, would make history as only the second African American woman ever to serve in the U.S. Senate. She has emerged as the progressive, grassroots candidate with more than 56,000 donors building on her history of knocking off entrenched incumbent Albert Wynn to make it to Congress eight years ago. And she enjoys the support of national groups like Jim and Howard Dean’s Democracy for America, the Progressive Change Campaign Committee and Maryland’s Working Families Party.
The race for the Senate in Maryland is about something more than the pathetic lack of diversity in the Senate. The clash between Edwards and Von Hollen is being seen as a referendum on how progressive the Democratic Party will become. The New York Times magazine quotes Neil Sroka of Democracy for America: “We view primaries like this one as a fight over the future of the Democratic Party.”
Edwards’ positions on trade, banking, Social Security and Israel, among others, differentiate her from her liberal opponent Rep. Van Hollen, who has taken on the mantle of the insider candidate after racking up endorsements from Maryland’s political establishment and large donations, increasingly from business interests. For example, Van Hollen has been the recent recipient of more than $900,000 from the National Association of Realtors...
Clearly, for many voters, there are not enough progressives, women or people of color in the Senate. Those factors, as well as Edwards’ charismatic personality and record of service, have generated a lot of enthusiasm for her candidacy.
Edwards told AlterNet why she wants to be in the Senate: "My campaign is about the grassroots stepping up and saying enough with business as usual in Washington. It’s about Maryland’s working families who deserve a progressive champion in the United States Senate. As Maryland’s next senator, I will fight for the woman who deserves equal pay for equal work, the worker who needs a living wage to provide for their family, and to hold the Wall Street banks that crashed our economy accountable."
There are many ways Donna Edwards’ campaign resembles Bernie Sanders’ surprisingly strong primary campaign against Hillary Clinton. Both Van Hollen and Clinton are the favorites of the corporate media, party insiders and the deep-pocketed donors who pump a lot of money into campaigns. Edwards, like Sanders, has established a successful grassroots funding operation. She has been speaking to the hopes of an electorate fed up with insider politics that sets the bar very low for what can be accomplished. Van Hollen, like Clinton, has tried to position himself as the practical candidate who can wheel and deal and get things done.
...[L]ike Sanders, Edwards has been marginalized and victimized by the mainstream media, particularly the Jeff Bezos-owned Washington Post (which published 16 negative articles about Sanders in one day). Misrepresenting Edwards as being too idealistic, the Post also constantly portrays her as an activist and single mother and in editorials suggests she does not work well with others. This sexist portrayal is quite a stretch, as anyone who knows Edwards and her work understands that she is pragmatic and far from a rigid ideologue (just as Sanders has been very successful behind the scenes in D.C. shaping legislation).
...One reason Edwards is running so strongly is that her vision is in sync with the goals and hopes of many progressives in Maryland and across the country. Jim Dean of the national Democrats for America explains it all in bullet points:
Donna Edwards is the true progressive in this all-important race. She is:
• The only candidate in the race who won’t take a dime from the Wall Street banksDean adds: "Donna Edwards is also the only candidate in the race who has always opposed cuts to Social Security and Medicare-- and who has been a leader in the fight to expand both crucial programs."
• A leader in the fight against the TPP
• A strong defender of Planned Parenthood and a woman’s right to choose
• A leader on racial justice and equality
• The first member of Congress in Maryland to endorse marriage equality
• The only candidate in the race opposed to mandatory minimum sentencing
• A fighter for every family-- regardless of zip code
That video just above is the new ad Donna'c campaign wants to run. If you like it and would like to help her get it up on TV in Baltimore where it can make all the difference, please consider chipping in by tapping the Donna Edwards ActBlue thermometer:
UPDATE: New Poll
Despite all the Wall Street and realtor money being poured into the race for Van Hollen, today's Washington Post released a poll showing Donna ahead of the establishment candidate among likely voters 44-40%. Her favorables are 64% to Van Hollen's 56%, in part die to the ugly, bullying campaign he has run against her.