I was lucky enough to be invited to the swearing in, and my employers, having endorsed Ms. Edwards from the start, we happy to grant me a day off. I happily made the trek from Westminster to the PG County campaign office where a SUPER AWESOME PARTY BUS would whisk supporters and politicos alike away to the capital.
The Post's Maryland Moment has a nice little posting that describes Donna Edwards' first couple of days in office. This is why elections shouldn't just be about electing more democrats, but better democrats as well:
Day 1: Sworn into office. Votes in favor of H.R. 5781, giving federal employees the option of using accumulated sick and personal leave for up to 8 weeks of paid parental leave in order to take care of newly born or adopted children. How's that for actually taking action in favor of families rather than just paying lip service to family values.
Day 2: Votes against FISA changes, in opposition to giving telecom companies immunity from, you know, actually being punished for breaking a law.
...definitely makes all the phone calls and door knocking worthwhile.
If you live in the Fourth District, make sure you get out and vote tomorrow in the special election to fill the congressional seat vacated by Al Wynn. While it's a pretty sure bet that Donna Edwards will win handily, you should excercise your civic duty in any case; there's always the possibility of nobody voting except die-hard Peter James supporters, à la the Simpsons. You can find your polling place here.
Just a quick note, with links to some reporting from the ongoing SEIU Convention in Puerto Rico. Soon-to-be US Representative for MD-04, Donna Edwards, gave a speech there today. A couple postings about that, with video, are at Firedoglake and Open Left.
Update: Post edited. Also, have now heard the speech - I couldn't get the link at Open Left to work on my system, but FDL's You Tube link functioned (direct link to that is here).
At just over 5 minutes long, Donna Edwards' speech will be nothing new to anyone who has followed her campaign in MD-04 this year. She is a success story for SEIU political involvement, and as such, a very good person to bring in for a bit of cheerleading for these union leaders and activists. That is how I would characterize this speech - something to rouse the troops, so to speak. Through mention of a number of key issues, mostly economic, she reminded the assembled group of what is at stake this election year, and of the role government should be playing in fixing many of the problems we face, a number of which have been created by our current national leadership.
Update #2: Compliments of FDL guest blogger Watertiger (blog home here) - who is covering the convention on SEIU's dime - here is a post-speech blogger photo-op and mini-chat with Donna Edwards. No big thang, just FYI.
*[For those who, like me, don't follow the labor community regularly, SEIU is not without its critics among other unions. The first comment in the Open Left post (posted by "California Nurses Shum"), and the links therein, will cue you in a bit to more information/opinions/flames on all that, and further poking around at Open Left will take you further into the relevant controversies. I've tried to follow the contretemps - with limited success - and IMHO there are no clearcut heroes and villains in all that. Mostly a matter of good and passionate advocates whose specific agendas, tactics, and constituencies occasionally collide, with the expected unpleasant results.]
There is no big news in the offing for this June 17 election in MD-04 -- at least, not as far as I can tell -- but in this windy post are a few reminders and info-bits for those interested in this race...
On the election itself, the Maryland State Board of Elections' website for special elections in 2008 is here, with details on the MD-04 Special Congressional Election information at the top of the page. The next significant deadline is probably the May 30 (by 9:00 pm) deadline for voter registration - that's this Friday. Thanks to Donna Edwards' strong ground game leading up to the February primary, with a huge boost from Senator Obama's Presidential campaign, a whole bunch of new voters apparently registered already. However, at least a few folks have turned 18 in the ensuing months, and if they haven't registered to vote yet, they have until Friday to do so; ditto for any others newly eligible to vote in this election.
(While we're waiting to see how the Pennsylvania primary plays out... - promoted by Isaac Smith)
Kensington, MD--Donna Edwards won the backing of the Montgomery County Democratic Party Central Committee tonight by a vote of 22 to 1. This was a key step leading up to the special election to serve the remaining portion of Rep. Albert Wynn's term in Maryland's 4th Congressional District.
The Prince Georges County Democratic Party Central Committee will hold a similar vote on Thursday, May 24. Both Committees will refer their decisions to the Maryland State Democratic Party Central Committee, which will pass along a recommendation to Governor Martin O'Malley.
This process will determine the Democratic nominee for the June 17th special election in lieu of a special primary election. The Republican Party will determine a nominee through a similar process. Jason Jennings received the remaining one vote.
There is very little time before the June 17 Special General Election to replace Al Wynn, so clearly everyone involved in the campaign has to move quickly. It seems reasonable that a light turnout would be expected for this stand-alone election. Making things more challenging, its date - just after the end of the school year, and at the start of vacation season for many - will have the likely effect of suppressing turnout even further. Here is some information about the upcoming election.
The Maryland Board of Elections has established the full schedule for this election - deadlines for candidate filings, voter registration, absentee ballots, etc. The URL for the BoE site is here. (Linking isn't working for my laptop/browser, for some reasonFixed).
Candidate filing opened on Monday (21Apr). Here are a few other key dates:
May 30 - Voter Registration Deadline (9pm)
June 10 - Deadline to Request an Absentee Ballot by fax or mail
June 11 - In-person Requests for Absentee Ballots Begins
June 17 - ELECTION DAY (7am - 8pm); and also June 17 - Deadline to Request an Absentee Ballot in Person (8pm); and also June 17 - Deadline for voters to hand deliver* (8pm) or mail Absentee Ballot
[*to local Bd. of Elec.]
The absentee ballot for this election is not yet available. According to the woman I spoke with at the Maryland Board of Elections, further information on the absentee ballot may become available as early as this Friday, and will be posted to the Website referenced above.
Gov. Martin O’Malley (D) will issue a proclamation tomorrow declaring June 17 as the date of the special general election to fill the impending vacant seat in Maryland’s Fourth Congressional District.
“At a time when our families are struggling to deal with a recession and national foreclosure crisis they must have representation in the United States Congress,” O’Malley said at an afternoon press conference.
Donna Edwards (D-Fort Washington) and Peter James (R-Germantown), who prevailed in their party’s primary on Feb. 12 for the District 4 seat, are expected to compete against each other on June 17.
Now if we can just get Al Wynn to foot the bill...
U.S. Rep. Albert R. Wynn (D-Md.), under pressure from congressional ethics watchdogs after announcing he will resign from Congress in seven weeks to take a job at a lobbying law firm, has stepped down from his congressional committee assignments.
Wynn, an eight-term congressman who was defeated in February in a Democratic primary, said in a statement that he advised House Speaker Nancy Pelosi Wednesday that he will leave his position on the House Energy and Commerce committee, as well as his subcommittee chairmanship, to avoid his presence becoming "fodder for partisan debate."
I wasn't aware that concern about the appearance of corruption, to say nothing of Wynn's shirking of his duty to his constituents by resigning early in the first place, was "partisan," but it's good to see that Wynn has some scruples. Now perhaps we can talk about the cost of the special election to replace him...
On behalf of the people of Maryland, I am sending Rep. Albert R. Wynn a bill for $500,000 -- his share of the cost of a special election that must be staged on account of Wynn quitting his congressional seat seven months early to take a fat-juicy job with a Washington lobbyist.
It's a reasonable request.
Wynn is in such a rush to take his new job -- and his next employer is so eager to get him -- that certainly they can split the cost of a special election to fill Wynn's seat. What's half-a-mil to a Washington lobbying firm that counts Bristol-Myers Squibb and Time Warner among its clients?
Everyone has said it before already here and elsewhere, but I think its worth another repetition: in defeat, Wynn shows his true colors. He never gave a crap about the environment, the Iraqi people, the labor movement, the U.S. taxpayer, the separation between church and state, or the most economically disadvantaged among us...and even the people of his own district. But now that the voters have spoken, he is cashing out as fast as he can.
What is disappointing to me is when the media fails to put this in context for us. For one thing, both CQ and The Sentinel is reporting that Wynn is simply becoming a partner at a "lawfirm" called Dickstein Shapiro.
The trouble all started when Rep. Albert Wynn (D-Dist. 4) announced March 27 that he would step down in June – several months before his term was scheduled to end – to take a position at Dickstein Shapiro, a Washington, D.C. law firm.
Wynn has announced that he is leaving Congress on May 31 to become a partner at the law firm Dickstein Shapiro.
Yes, it is a law firm, and yes, he may technically be reffered to as a "partner." However, Dickstein Shapiro is a law firm that engages in major lobbying. Their clients include big tobacco, nuclear energy (a patron of Wynn the Congressman), and other energy and corporate interests.
Journalists should convey the truth with as much clarity as possible. Without mention of the lobbying world Wynn is abandoning his constituents for, people don't really understand what is really going on.
As a side note, in the CQ article it state Jennings is trying to get the Dem Central Committee to intervene:
Jennings said in an interview with CQ Politics that he will begin to call party central committee members in Prince George's and Montgomery counties, parts of which make up the 4th District, to lobby them for the nomination. He noted that he would have preferred a primary, which he described as a "democratic process" in which anyone could run simply by paying the $100 filing fee and adhering to the state's constitutional requirements to run for the U.S. House. He acknowledged that Edwards now has the weight of the Democratic political establishment behind her, but said, "I do not think it should be simply given to her...if the primary taught us anything, it was that you should never let your elected officials go unchallenged.
Very sneaky. But give me a break... Jennings was rejected by voters, laughed at at debates, and has no idea about Iraq.
The Maryland General Assembly approved a proposal to ensure full and continuous representation for Maryland's 4th Congressional District following the announced retirement of Rep. Albert Wynn effective in June. With Gov. Martin O'Malley's support, this measure creates a process to proceed directly to a Special General Election with a party nominating process that will take place in light of the 2008 Primary Election just held on February 12. Nominations for the ballot for the special general election will be made by the party central committees comprising the Congressional District, as well as, any candidates that satisfy other statutory criteria as independent or minor parties.
"The governor had a very difficult decision, weighing the potential costs of two special elections and the rights of the residents of Maryland's 4th District to have representation in Congress," said Donna Edwards. "The Governor and the General Assembly struck the right balance to create a process that will result in a single, fair Special General Election to secure full and continuous representation for the 4th District. I am excited that we now have a roadmap in order to move forward. My priorities now include winning the special general election and continuing to reach out and unite leaders and residents from around the district, to begin work on the issues and challenges we face, and a commitment to providing constituency services that are second-to-none."
Maryland Gov. Martin O'Malley (D) will ask the state legislature to pass emergency legislation that would allow the state to hold a special general election to replace outgoing U.S. Rep. Albert R. Wynn (D) without first holding a primary.
O'Malley said he will ask the General Assembly to make the change before the legislative session ends Monday. It would allow the winner to serve out the remainder of Wynn's term and achieve seniority over other congressional freshmen.
If O'Malley can pull this off, it will be a huge help to Donna Edwards, who recently defeated Wynn in the primary.
Matt Stoller has more, including the fact that this may give Donna Edwards the opportunity to be an Obama superdelegate.
Surprisingly, I am happy about the results of CD-4. Not because I supported Donna Edwards. I actually didn’t, I supported Al Wynn. However, I was able to see something during the campaign that warmed my heart and frankly told me that the more things change the more they stay the same.
I've been waiting to say that for nearly two years. And it looks like it's happened. Both the Washington Post and the Baltimore Sun are projecting Donna Edwards to win Fourth Congressional District Democratic primary. This is a spectacular victory -- we already had a great candidate and a great message, all that was needed was the organization. Progressives everywhere, and especially Maryland, should be proud at these results. Despite Al Wynn's relentless sliming, voters overwhelmingly chose Edwards and her message of change. And all those new voters who came in to vote for Barack Obama evidently could tell the difference between the two. I'm very, very pleased.
As I wrote time and time again, we don't have the money to buy off our politicians, and the bad Democrats know we're not about to start voting for Republicans. So the only way we can hold our caucus accountable is to send notice that we will primary them. And sure, they may survive such primaries. But sometimes they won't.
We'll be working this fall for "more" Democrats, but today we struck a blow on behalf of better Democrats.
Our caucus is once again on notice. If they continue to serve corporate interests rather than their constituents, if they insist on remaining aloof to the nation's popular sentiment, they'll get booted in a Democratic primary like Joe Lieberman in 2006 and Al Wynn in 2008.
UPDATE 3: Donna's win is historic for another reason: She will be the first female black member of Congress from Maryland.
Already in Virginia, where the polls are closed, Barack Obama wins, and Mike Huckabee is putting up a strong showing.
UPDATE: Obama projected to win the District as well, and voted for Maryland is extended until 9:30.
UPDATE 2: Just to give an idea of how icy it is in Maryland right now, as I was walking out to make a quick trip to the grocery store, I slipped on the curb, leaving a nice gash in my shin. So it's easy to see why voting's been extended. Any late voters out there, be careful.
With less than an hour to go before the polls close, it appears there haven't been any major fiascos related to voting so far. There are Al Wynn's sample ballots trying to cling to Barack Obama's coattails, but it appears that Donna Edwards' sample ballots are doing the same thing -- no doubt, in part, to dilute Wynn's attempt to boost his flagging profile. Interestingly, both types of sample ballots are appearing in Prince George's County, but not in Montgomery County. Perhaps this reflects the fact that Prince George's is Wynn's firewall: If he fails to win it outright, he's toast.