Donna F. Edwards (born June 28, 1958) is the U.S. Representative for Maryland's 4th congressional district, serving since a special election in 2008. She is a member of the Democratic Party. The district includes most of Prince George's County, as well as part of Montgomery County.
A lawyer and long time community activist, she defeated 15-year incumbent Albert Wynn in the 2008 Democratic primary, and, following his resignation, won a special election on June 17, 2008 to fill the remainder of this term. She was officially sworn in two days later on June 19, becoming the first African American woman to represent Maryland in the United States Congress.
Edwards ran for a full term in November 2008, defeating Republican candidate Peter James with 85% of the vote.
She is working to help pass an amendment to the U.S. Constitution that would effect a repeal of the 2010 Supreme Court ruling in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission.
Early life, education and career
Edwards earned her first degree from Wake Forest University, where she was one of only six black women in her class. After working for Lockheed Corporation at the Goddard Space Flight Center with the Spacelab program, she attended and earned a law degree from Franklin Pierce Law Center in New Hampshire. Edwards worked for Albert Wynn as a clerk in the 1980s, when he served in the Maryland House of Delegates.
Edwards co-founded and served as the first executive director of the National Network to End Domestic Violence, an advocacy and legal support group for battered women.
She worked to pass the 1994 Violence Against Women Act.
She later worked with Public Citizen, and then as the executive director of the Center for a New Democracy. In 2000 she became the executive director of the Arca Foundation, taking a leave of absence during her political campaign.
U.S. House of Representatives
Rep. Donna Edwards was arrested April 27, 2009 outside the Sudan embassy during a protest against genocide in Darfur. The Representative and five other US Congressional Representatives were protesting the blocking of aid to victims.
They were arrested after ignoring warnings issued by police maintaining a police line to protect the embassy in Washington D.C.
The other U.S. lawmakers arrested during the protest were Reps. Jim McGovern (D-Massachusetts), Keith Ellison (D-Minnesota), Rep. John Lewis (D-Georgia), Rep. Jim Moran (D-VA), and Lynn Woolsey (D-California).
Edwards challenged seven-term incumbent Al Wynn in the 2006 Democratic primary - the real contest in this heavily Democratic, black-majority district.
Edwards focused primarily on Wynn's voting record. Wynn, considered a conservative by African-American Democratic standards, was one of four Congressional Black Caucus members that voted for the 2002 Iraq War resolution. Edwards condemned the war before it started. Wynn eventually began to say he was misled by the Bush Administration and his vote was a mistake. Edwards opposed the repeal of the estate tax, which Wynn voted for. Similarly, Edwards criticized Wynn's vote for the bankruptcy bill of 2005, which eliminated some bankruptcy protections for individuals. Wynn supported the energy bill promoted by Vice President and former Halliburton CEO Dick Cheney. Wynn opposed the net neutrality bill of 2006, which Edwards supports.
On August 16, 2006, before a debate at Prince George's Community College, an altercation occurred between Wynn's staffers and an Edwards volunteer, leaving the volunteer with a bloody gash to the head. This event brought much media attention to the race.
On August 30, 2006, the Washington Post endorsed Edwards in the primary race.
The primary was held on September 12, 2006. Wynn defeated Edwards by 49.7 percent to 46.4 percent, with a margin of 2,725 votes out of more than 82,000 cast. George McDermott, a little-known candidate, took 3.9 percent. The final tally of the primary was unclear for nearly two weeks because of widespread voting problems on new electronic voting machines in Montgomery and Prince George's counties.
In 2008, Edwards again challenged Wynn for his seat in the Democratic primary. During the 2008 campaign, Edwards accused Wynn of being out of touch with the community and of accepting hundreds of thousands of dollars of corporate money. Wynn counter-attacked Edwards as hypocritical, citing the fact that she served as executive director of the Arca Foundation, an organization that has invested millions of dollars in oil and gas companies.
In the February 12, 2008, primary, Edwards defeated the eight-term incumbent in a rout, taking 60% of the vote to Wynn's 35%. The win virtually assured her of victory in the heavily Democratic district in November.
After the primary, Wynn announced he would retire effective June 2008. Edwards won the Democratic nomination for the June 17, 2008, special election to serve out the last six months of Wynn's term.
Edwards won the backing of the Montgomery County, Maryland, Democratic Party Central Committee April 22, 2008, by a 22 to 1 margin. Two days later, the Prince George's County Democratic Party Central Committee also recommended Edwards, this by a 17 to 0 vote on April 24, 2008.
As expected, Edwards easily won the special election, taking 81 percent of the vote over Republican Peter James and Libertarian Thibeaux Lincecum. She took office two days later, giving her a leg up on seniority over any new congresspersons who were elected in 2008.
Edwards ran for a full term in November 2008 and was an overwhelming favorite; a Republican has never tallied more than 25 percent of the vote in the 4th district since it assumed its current configuration after the 1990 Census. Indeed, many of the 4th district's residents already thought of her as the district's congresswoman even before the special election. As expected, Edwards easily won a full term with 85 percent of the vote, one of the highest percentages in the nation for a Democrat facing major-party opposition.
Edwards won against Delegate Herman L. Taylor, Jr. in the September, 2010, primary.
Edwards lives in Fort Washington, Maryland.
November 21st, 2011