Edwards’ Closing Argument

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It hasn’t been a good week or so for Donna Edwards. In the last four polls, she’s gone from +4 to -6 to -9 to -16. That’s what us professional poll obsessive call a “bad trend line.” With the polls opening in less than 24 hours, Edwards has responded, first with more Super PAC spending (a half million each from Emily’s List and Working for Us), but also a pair of articles in which she denounces anyone and everyone who’s not supporting her.

First, a Buzzfeed interview. Who does Edwards believe is getting it wrong? Everyone.

If you ask Rep. Donna Edwards, the polls and the newspapers — and even, on some level, people in the Democratic Party — have it wrong.

Days before the Maryland Democratic primary, in which the congresswoman hopes to defeat her colleague in the de facto race to replace retiring Sen. Barbara Mikulski, Edwards told BuzzFeed News that it’s misleading to poll this close to election day, sharply critiqued recent Politico and Washington Post pieces about her candidacy — and said that the suggestion within her own party that she is unqualified is racially coded.

Edwards’ race against Rep. Chris Van Hollen was always considered a challenge, but she has proved far more competitive than expected, keeping even with him in many polls. On Thursday, however, a Monmouth poll in the state put Edwards down double digits to Van Hollen.

She’s not worried about the poll, she said, casting it as misleading.

“A poll at this stage with a pretty volatile electorate is very unpredictable,” Edwards said in an interview with BuzzFeed News. “That poll came in the middle of early voting, and it seems odd to [conduct] a poll while people are actually casting their votes.”

The poll landed the same day as Politico reported that Edwards has pressed Congressional Black Caucus members about why more haven’t endorsed her candidacy over Van Hollen’s. Only several members have endorsed Edwards, who would be only the second black Democrat in the Senate currently, and the only black woman. She disputes the premise that she’s been pushing the issue of why there haven’t been more endorsements: “No it was not [accurate], actually,” she said, though she did confirm that she had met with some members at a “private breakfast.” She said she’s been meeting with members for a long time, noting that members have donated to her campaign and helped connect her with their donors.

A running line in both the Politico story and the Washington Post’s endorsement of Van Hollen is the charge that Edwards is difficult to work with on Capitol Hill — a charge that she and her campaign have argued vehemently against.

“I don’t talk to reporters off the record,” she said of the sources who spoke to Politico, and were quoted anonymously. “If I have something to say I say it on the record because I’m not ashamed for my name to be attached to it.”

The second piece, with the Hill, doubles down on the racial angle within the Democratic Party.

Rep. Donna Edwards, a Democrat running for a Senate seat in Maryland, blasted her own party and said racism is keeping her campaign from getting full support.

“I thought the Republican Party was full of dog whistles, but the Democratic Party has a foghorn,” Edwards said in an interview with Buzzfeed on Saturday.
“As a sitting member of the House, as the ranking Democrat on one of our committees in the House, as the co-chair of our steering and policy committee sitting at the leadership table with Leader Pelosi, as former chair of the bipartisan women’s caucus, a lawyer – how dare they describe me as unqualified?”

Edwards has only received a few endorsements from members of the Congressional Black Caucus (CBC), and a coalition of current and former presidents of local NAACP chapters have backed her primary opponent, Rep. Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.).
“I’m dumbfounded by Democrats who don’t see the value of race and gender as part of a mix of who we are on public and private lives,” she said. “It’s sad to have Democrats using terms like ‘identity politics’ — those are not our words. Those are the words of the right.”

So the polls are wrong, the CBC is wrong, and the Democratic Party is full of racists. And by the way, to my knowledge, nobody has ever said that Edwards was “unqualified,” only that she has done a poor job of constituent service. Which, based on hundreds of conversations with folks in Montgomery County and Prince George’s County, as well as more recently in Anne Arundel County, is demonstrably true.

In any event, calling out the Democratic Party for being racists on the eve of a Democratic primary election is not likely to be a winning strategy.

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