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Maryland: EMILY’s List, Progressive Maryland Tap Edwards

Lawyer and community activist Donna Edwards (D) has picked up the endorsement of the powerful pro-abortion rights group EMILY’s List in her campaign to knock off Rep. Albert Wynn (D) in the 4th district primary.

The support of EMILY’s List, which endorses female Democratic candidates who support abortion rights, means Edwards likely will now receive heavy financial support from the group’s large donor base. And that support will be crucial in the coming months leading up to the state’s early primary date in February.

As of Sept. 30, Edwards was behind in the fundraising race, reporting $116,000 in cash on hand to Wynn’s $400,000.

“Donna Edwards is a proven leader and a dynamic, progressive activist whose efforts have been felt in both Maryland’s 4th Congressional district and across the nation,” said Ellen Malcolm, president of EMILY’s List. “We are pleased to support Donna Edwards and to help elect this truly impressive woman to Congress.”

This is only the third time that EMILY’s List has endorsed a challenger over a sitting Democratic incumbent.

Another organization that has added to Edwards’ growing list of endorsements is Progressive Maryland, a grass-roots organization of 15,000 supporters and a number of affiliated religious, community and labor organizations.

But Wynn’s campaign maintains there is a conflict of interest, because Progressive Maryland has received funding from the Arca Foundation, a Washington, D.C.-based organization that Edwards heads (though she currently is on leave as she campaigns for Congress). Wynn’s campaign raised similar concerns when the League of Conservation Voters announced in September that it was endorsing Edwards.

“We have significant support from labor and the Progressive Maryland endorsement of Donna Edwards is another example of a group that Donna and the Arca Foundation has given money to that is now supporting her,” said Wynn campaign manager Lori Sherwood.

On Monday, Edwards said it was unfair for Wynn to allege that there was political motivation in the past work she has done for the Arca Foundation.

Edwards said Wynn’s continued allegations about her endorsements merely are political tactics that demean the good work being done by groups like the LCV and Progressive Maryland.

At a fundraiser Saturday night in Silver Spring that was headlined by Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), Wynn acknowledged that his campaign continues to have concerns about the financial ties that the Arca Foundation has with some of the groups that have endorsed Edwards. However, Wynn said, “I’m not worried about her endorsements.”

Pointing to Pelosi, who was shaking hands and chatting with a large crowd of supporters at the Wynn fundraiser, the Congressman said, “I think I’ve got the biggest endorsement of all.”

Edwards said Wynn’s fundraiser “sounds like incumbent business as usual for the Congressman. … He can line up with the D.C. establishment and corporate special interests — I’m grateful to stand with a grassroots organization like Progressive Maryland with its 15,000 members and supporters and 40 affiliated religious, community and labor organizations in our state.”

— John McArdle