Edwards Endorsed By NWPC

Donna Edwards has received the endorsement of the National Women’s Political Caucus, reports John Fritze in the Sun.

A national women’s group endorsed Rep. Donna Edwards’ campaign for Senate on Tuesday as the two Democratic candidates are working to appeal to female voters.

The National Women’s Political Caucus said in a statement that Edwards, of Prince George’s County, has an “impeccable record on women’s rights and a strong track record for effective leadership.”
The group is the latest national women’s organization to back Edwards. Her opponent for the Democratic nomination, Rep. Chris Van Hollen of Montgomery County, has by contrast received the backing of several prominent female lawmakers in the state.
It’s unlikely the NWPC is in a position to have a significant impact on the race: The group, founded in 1971, spent less than $1,000 on campaigns across the nation in the 2014 cycle. In a brief interview, the group’s president said it has chapters throughout the nation, and that it requests that its members donate directly to the candidates they support.

The Year Of The Woman

One day into the New Year, and the branding has already begun. It’s the Year of the Woman in Maryland politics. 

Women voters in Maryland are being targeted with television ads about the two candidates running in the state’s Democratic primary for U.S. Senate, underscoring the battle underway for a demographic that will play a key role in choosing a successor to Barbara A. Mikulski, the pathbreaking dean of the Senate women.

Rep. Chris Van Hollen of Montgomery County began airing a new commercial this week promoting his record on women’s issues. The spot comes as a powerful national women’s group with a history in Maryland politics is running $1 million in advertising for his primary opponent, Rep. Donna F. Edwards of Prince George’s County.

In races across the state, candidates are working aggressively to reach women, who typically account for about 60 percent of the turnout in Maryland Democratic primaries — and who observers believe will be energized by Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign to vote in larger numbers this year.

“There are many women who are looking at her candidacy as historic,” said Steve Raabe, president of the Annapolis-based polling firm OpinionWorks. “That certainly isn’t going to hurt the turnout among women.”

And it’s not just the Senate race, either. It’s happening in both open House races as well.

In the 8th Congressional District, which includes parts of Montgomery, Frederick and Carroll counties, former television news anchor Kathleen Matthews focused her first position paper on what she described as women’s issues, including paid family leave and equal pay.

State Sen. Jamie Raskin, also running for the Democratic nomination in the 8th District, announced a group of female supporters early in his campaign that will help organize other women to back the campaign.

Several women’s political organizations, meanwhile, have endorsed state Del. Joseline Peña-Melnyk in her bid in the 4th Congressional District, which includes Anne Arundel and Prince George’s counties. Another candidate in the 4th, former Prince George’s County State’s Attorney Glenn Ivey, launched a group of women supporters in December.

Given the statistics on turnout, appealing to women is critical. Moreover, there is a natural fit between certain issues that matter  to women - pay equity, family leave, child care - and economic justice issues generally that are of critical importance to the increasing progressive left wing of the party’s electorate. If you’re a candidate with a real and meaningful track record on these issues, then you’re in the game.

But let’s be brutally honest in a way that John Fritze perhaps can’t be: being a female candidate in 2016 is an advantage. It’s Donna Edwards’ calling card - if she wins, it will be because she argues that she brings a unique perspective as a black woman (race isn’t exactly relevant, either, prtixularly in the Senate contest). Kathleen Matthews and Joseline Pena-Melnyk are surging because they’re working hard and running good campaigns, but part of their appeal is that they’re women.

It’s a fine line. Nobody should be elected solely because of their identity: race, gender, ethnicity, generational, etc. But it is a factor. 

“Vote for me because I understand what it’s like to be a woman.”

“We need more voices that will speak to women’s issues and concerns.”

If being a woman is all you’ve got, then you’re not going to succeed. But the women in all three races have extensive and impressive track records, and being women only enhances that appeal. How it all plays out in the end will be one of the key story lines between now and April 26.

NOW For Edwards

The National Organization for Women (NOW) today announced its endorsement of Donna Edwards for Senate.

The National Organization for Women’s political action committee has endorsed Rep. Donna F. Edwards (D-Md.) in a tough primary fight for the U.S. Senate seat being vacated by retiring Sen. Barbara A. Mikulski (D).

“Barbara Mikulski may be retiring, but Maryland still needs a Senator with a strong record of fighting for women and families in Washington,” NOW president Terry O’Neill said in a statement.

Women’s groups and issues have played a major role in the campaign between Edwards and fellow Democratic Rep. Chris Van Hollen. Their first debate was a NOW forum. Edwards has argued that as a black woman, she would not just continue Mikulski’s legacy but bring much-needed diversity to the Senate.

As with seemingly everything in this race, the endorsement did not come without some controversy, in this case from the local and state NOW affiliates who advocated for no endorsement to be made because of strong support for both candidates in the race.

“NOW members in Montgomery County and throughout the state who support Congressman Chris Van Hollen will be unhappy with this decision,” local chapter Co-Presidents Holly Joseph and Jeannette Feldner said in a statement. They said that the state had recommended that NOW not endorse at all because of a split among members between the two candidates. “We are very disappointed,” they wrote.

Rascovar Still Hasn’t Found Any Nuts

Yesterday, I discussed Barry Rascovar’s lament about EMILY’s List “wasting” $1 million on Donna Edwards. It was a sexist, racist, condescending and ultimately baseless piece. Hell, even the other Barry (O’Connell) figured that out, and that’s not a usual occurrence.

Today, Rascovar is back to throw more shit into the already overflowing bag of excrement. Writing in the Carroll County Times, Rascovar doubles down on his attacks on Donna Edwards. Speaking of Delegate Kathy Szeliga, a GOP contender for the Senate, Rascovar writes:

Should Edwards wind up with the Democratic nomination, Szeliga’s chances would improve dramatically.

Edwards, a very liberal and outspoken African-American, has scant support outside of Baltimore City and Prince George’s County. She might be a weak Democratic nominee, giving Szeliga a window of opportunity.
Because the Democratic primary will be an expensive battle between two members of Congress, the primary victor will have to spend all summer fundraising to prepare for the general election.
Szeliga might not have that problem, giving her extra months to build her campaign treasury.

Even more directly than yesterday, Rascovar is saying that being African-American is a liability. And heaven forbid a block woman be “outspoken.” You know, come to think of it, Chris Van Hollen is “liberal and outspoken” too. So why isn’t he just as vulnerable? Oh, wait, I get it. Thanks for reminding me again that Doons Edwards is black. I might have forgotten - if Rascovar hadn’t brought it up in the immediately preceding sentence.

The less offensive, but equally proposterous assumption, is that Montgomery County Democrats won’t support Edwards if she wins the primary. There’s no evidence that this will happen, unless it’s because Donna Edwards is . . . well, you know. I’ve lived in this county for 25 years - we support our party nominees just fine. And this is coming from a Van Hollen partisan.

Final point - while Rascovar is dying to keep comparing 2016 with 2014, that’s a fool’s errand. As any good field operative can tell you, there is little resemblance between those who turn out in a gubernatorial election and those who show up for a presidential contest. There will be more voters, a lot more, in 2016 than there were in 2014. Turnout of key Democratic constituencies such as minorities and students will be higher, thus increasing the already strong advantage that the Democratic candidate in the Senate race will enjoy.  

Barry Rascovar needs to heed the old adage that when you’re in a hole, the best thing you can do is stop digging. Besides being offensive, his arguments are just plain wrong.

Another Blind Squirrel - And A Hatchet

First, Fred Hiatt raked Mitch McDonnell over the coals on climate change. Then, before the day is over, Barry Rascovar writes a bad, sexist, racist and condescending article about EMILY’s List and Donna Edwards - and my buddy Barry O’Connell takes Rascovar to task for it. O’Connell, usually a practitioner of bizarre “I know you are but what am I?” analysis, gets something right. First time for everything.

First, Rascovar. He’s upset at EMILY’s List for spending $1 million on ads supporting Edwards. Incensed, in fact. So much so that he adopts his best Don Draper mentality and goes to town on those stupid women.

What in the world was Emily’s List thinking when it threw $1 million into the Maryland Senate primary race for a candidate who could be an easy mark for Republicans next November?

Why would the women’s political empowerment group try to defeat a much stronger Democratic candidate who has an unblemished pro-choice record and strong support from elected female leaders in Maryland and women’s rights advocates?
It’s a baffling call, especially in an election season where a $1 million advertising blitz could make a huge difference in a number of pivotal general election Senate races around the country involving other Democratic, pro-choice, female candidates.

It’s really not hard to get it, Barry. They endorsed Donna Edwards early, she needs help now, so they did what they always do - spend money on ads for their preferred candidates. And I’m for the othe guy - so if I can understand, so can you. What this appears to be is a fit of pique - Rascovar is upset that the ladies won’t just settle for the perfectly good guy running against Edwards. That’s not how it works, sir - EMILY’s List only supports women. Like it or don’t in any give case, it’s their prerogative.

It gets worse, though:

It’s an independent expenditure committee ad campaign, which by law means Emily’s List cannot coordinate its activities with the Edwards camp. But the obvious similarities of Edwards’ campaign pitch and the Emily’s List ad is striking and raises concerns.

Even more troubling is Emily’s List’s attempt to target its ad to an African-American audience, with an obvious African-American narrator proclaiming Edwards will “work for us.”
If the same language had been used in support of a white candidate, there would be hell to pay – and rightly so.

Did you ever think that maybe “us” means “women”? EMILY’s List is a women’s organization, after all, dedicated to electing pro-choice Democratic women. Not men who might do just as well. Trust me, I get it - I have as good a track record on women’s issues as anyone, but they wouldn’t endorse me last year because I’m not a woman. And even if it means African-American women, why is that so bad?

Next, we’re told that Edwards isn’t as good a general election candidate as Van Hollen. That might be true - I certainly think so - but Rascovar does it by comparing her to Anthony Brown. Hmmmmmm.

Republicans are hoping for a repeat of Larry Hogan’s upset win in the governor’s race last year. He defeated Lt. Gov. Anthony Brown, who lacked broad statewide support among Democrats, independents and elected officials.

If either of the two GOP front-runners, Del. Kathy Szeliga or Harford County Executive Barry Glassman is nominated, they could duplicate Hogan’s success if Edwards is the Senate opponent.
Both are good campaigners who want to come across as smiling, Hogan-esque figures.
Edwards, on the other hand, is a lightning rod for controversy. Her hard-edge political approach is far to the left of the Democratic center, she does not work well with her fellow politicians and she often has forgotten to tend to the services demanded by constituents.

No polls, no data, just an assumption that Edwards - who happens to be black - won’t be the favorite in a general election against either of two white opponents, in an election with a much larger electorate than 2014. I’ve got a big problem with that “analysis,” in terms of both substance and tone - not to mention implication.

Barry O’Connell, on Facebook, looks at this and concludes as follows:

I am not supporting either candidate in the MD Senate race. But the Barry Rascovar hatchet job on [Donna F. Edwards]is really uncomfortable. If it were anyone else i would think Unfair, Untrue, and Racist.

Well said. The only thing I’d add is “sexist” and “condescending.”

Edwards Responds

Think of the Senate race as an old-fashioned artillery duel. Chris Van Hollen opened with a massive salvo of artillery, bringing down withering fire on Edwards’ flanks in Baltimore. As the smoke cleared from the advertising onslaught, with the accompanying poll results, the big question was this: how damaged was the Edwards artillery? Were her troops dispirited, her will to press on in battle broken?

Well, today brings the answer. Edwards’ guns have not been silenced - in fact they’ve been reinforced and are getting ready to level a blast of grapeshot right back at Van Hollen’s infantry. Courtesy of EMILY’s List.

Game on. Civil War artillery metaphor over - for now.

A powerful political group that helped elect Barbara A. Mikulski to the Senate nearly 30 years ago will spend $1 million in advertising for Rep. Donna F. Edwards’ campaign to be her successor, helping to close an advertising gap with her better-funded opponent.

Emily’s List, the Washington-based group that helps elect Democratic women who support abortion rights, will begin the Baltimore-focused campaign on Tuesday, a week after a poll for The Baltimore Sun and the University of Baltimore showed Rep. Chris Van Hollen with a double-digit lead in the race.
The investment is significant in part because it signals Emily’s List plans to be a factor in the contest, helping Edwards raise her profile and compete for television air time. Van Hollen, who has more than 10 times the cash on hand, has already run three broadcast ads in Baltimore.
The group will spend $875,000 on cable and broadcast ads alone, plus another $146,000 on radio and digital spots. The ads will run over six weeks and will target African American women. The ad campaign is paid for through WOMEN VOTE!, the group’s super PAC, which spent more than $12 million in the 2014 election cycle.

Conveniently enough, here’s the proof of what $1 million gets you in an IE buy in Baltimore.

BREAKING: Van Hollen Leads In New Poll

The Baltimore Sun reports this blustery Sunday afternoon on the results of a new Senate poll showing Chris Van Hollen leading Donna Edwards by double digits.

After weeks of targeting Baltimore-area voters with television advertising, Rep. Chris Van Hollen has opened a significant, double-digit lead in Maryland’s closely watched Democratic primary race to succeed retiring Sen. Barbara A. Mikulski, according to a new poll for The Baltimore Sun and the University of Baltimore.

The seven-term lawmaker from Montgomery County is running ahead of Rep. Donna F. Edwards of Prince George’s County in virtually every corner of the state, and is performing remarkably well among women, black voters and other groups that the Edwards campaign has viewed as critical to its success.
Forty-five percent of likely Democratic primary voters said they would support Van Hollen, compared with 31 percent for Edwards. The 14-point spread will reorder the conventional wisdom that Edwards enjoyed a slight lead.

Elijah Cummings still casts a large shadow over the race, even as it appears increasingly unlikely that he will join the race.

Rep. Elijah E. Cummings, who is still deciding whether to jump into the race, would be a game-changer if he did: The Baltimore lawmaker would capture 40 percent of the state’s Democratic voters, the poll found, enough to lead Van Hollen and Edwards in a three-way race.

Conventional wisdom upended. I always knew that the Post poll was skewed by problems with its methodology and approach. But it’s also true that Van Hollen’s sustained advertising in Baltimore has had a major impact as well.

Battle For Baltimore II

Back in June, I wrote about an article by John Fritze about Chris Van Hollen and Donna Edwards both focusing a significant amount of attention and time on Baltimore, which does not (at the moment) have a candidate in the race.

Five months later, the battle rages on, and Fritze has returned to chart its progress.

Reps. Donna F. Edwards of Prince George’s County and Chris Van Hollen of Montgomery County have appeared more frequently in the Democrat-rich Baltimore region in recent weeks than in any other part of the state — underscoring its battleground status in one of the nation’s most closely watched primary contests.

Both candidates are better known in their own communities on the other side of Route 32, and so Baltimore is wide-open political territory.

“It’s important for Baltimore to enjoy success because that defines success for the entire state,” Edwards, 57, said between campaign stops in the city recently. “I’m spending a lot of time in Baltimore because I’m not from Baltimore, and so I want to learn its neighborhoods and communities — its leaders.”

Van Hollen echoed the sentiment during a recent visit: “My view has always been that the state of Maryland is only going to be strong and vibrant if the city of Baltimore is strong and vibrant.”

While Baltimore’s political influence in the state has diminished with the growth of Montgomery and Prince George’s counties, the region remains fertile ground for Democratic candidates. Together, Baltimore City and Baltimore and Anne Arundel counties accounted for more than a third of the 2012 Democratic primary turnout, about 115,000 voters.

Edwards and Van Hollen are running to succeed retiring Sen. Barbara A. Mikulski, a Highlandtown native and former city councilwoman who has championed the state’s largest city throughout her career. The state’s other senator, Democrat Ben Cardin, grew up in Ashburton.