Black Maryland Democrat Accuses Party of Sounding Racial ‘Foghorn’

Donna Edwards
Donna Edwards / AP
• April 26, 2016 11:32 am


A black Maryland congresswoman running in the state’s Democratic primary for U.S. Senate recently accused the party of using a racial "foghorn" to thwart her campaign in favor of that of her competitor.

Maryland Reps. Donna Edwards and Chris Van Hollen are running against one another in the tight Maryland primary that will likely deliver the replacement for Sen. Barbara Mikulski (D., Md.), the longest-serving female senator in history. Edwards fought back at criticisms of her candidacy from some in the Democratic Party during an interview with BuzzFeed published over the weekend, accusing leaders of engaging in racist attacks.

BuzzFeed reported:

On Friday, [Edwards’] campaign organized a press call in which leaders described narratives that Edwards is ‘difficult’ or ‘ineffective’ as racially coded. Edwards is offended by the suggestions that she is unqualified for the Senate, though she did not specify who had called her unqualified for the job.

"I thought the Republican Party was full of dog whistles but the Democratic Party has a foghorn," Edwards said. "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 [Nancy] Pelosi, as former chair of the bipartisan women’s caucus, a lawyer: How dare they describe me as unqualified?"

Edwards specifically responded to articles in Politico and the Washington Post, the latter of which has endorsed Van Hollen, that have indicated that Edwards is difficult to work with in Congress.

As the primary has grown increasingly competitive, some Democratic lawmakers have publicly aired their criticisms of Edwards.

"The choice in this election is very clear," Rep. Gerry Connolly (D., Va.), a supporter of Van Hollen, recently said in an interview with the Associated Press. "It is whether the people of Maryland want somebody who can be effective, or somebody who’s going to bask in her own feelings of moral superiority because of various and sundry factors, and effectiveness has nothing to do with it."

Politico reported last week that Edwards had confronted members of the Congressional Black Caucus over their refusal to support her candidacy, a report that the congresswoman described as inaccurate.  Only a handful of members of the caucus have endorsed Edwards, and it has opted not to endorse the congresswoman through its political arm.

If elected, Edwards would be the second black Democrat currently in the senate and the only black woman.

In the interview with BuzzFeed, Edwards fought back at criticisms that her campaign has focused too much on gender and race.

"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."

According to an average of polls provided by Real Clear Politics, Van Hollen has an approximately 10-point lead over Edwards in the primary, which will be decided after Maryland voters head to the polls on Tuesday.