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Congressional Rematch in Maryland

Rosalind Helderman

About 1,000 people showed up for a kick-off fundraiser for U.S. Rep. Albert Wynn (D) at Prince George's Camelot banquet hall in Upper Marlboro. Wynn survived a tough challenge from local activist Donna Edwards in last September's Democratic primary.

Because of the quirks of the presidential primary calendar, Wynn's campaign for reelection is already very active. That's because when Maryland voted to hold its Presidential primary earlier than ever, it also meant other primary races, including for Congress, got pushed up. The Wynn-Edwards rematch for the Democratic nomination from Maryland's 4th district will now take place on Feb. 12, just a bit more than a year after Wynn took office.

That might be why Wynn's aides wanted for a big turnout at this morning's event, at which they were hoping to raise $250,000. (One attendee said he received on the order 10 calls urging his appearance.) Their work must have paid off--much of the county's state legislative delegation was in attendance, as were several members of the County Council, Comptroller Peter Franchot, Attorney General Douglas F. Gansler and County Executive Jack B. Johnson.

"Make no mistake about it--it's on!" Wynn told the room. "Let's go get 'em!"

There was a bit of buzz at the event, however, about Wynn's selection of a keynote speaker for the event--former representative and candidate for Senate Harold E. Ford, who is now head of the Democratic Leadership Council. Edwards' campaign has been built on attacking Wynn from the left, especially because he voted to authorize the use of force in Iraq in 2003. Ford, meanwhile, is widely seen as a fairly conservative Democrat.

"He's not representative of the district--I don't think he represents the Democratic party," said Del. Victor R. Ramirez (D-Prince George's). "I don't see how it helps [Wynn]."

"I was a little disappointed in Mr. Ford's comments on Iraq," said Del. Doyle L. Niemann (D-Prince George's). "I thought they were not necessarily representative of where Al Wynn stands."

The comments Niemann was referring to took place during the breakfast event's speechifying. Wynn told the crowd, "We've got to bring our troops home from Iraq." He noted, however, that doesn't mean abandoning the war torn country. Instead, he said the United States needs to let regional players like Egypt and Jordan work out a peace plan.

Ford, meanwhile, offered scathing criticism of how President Bush has managed the war, but specifically noted "I don't think we can leave Iraq right away." Ford went on to say, "As much as didn't do it right, we have to get it right because there are people over there who want to do us harm."

In an interview, Wynn called Ford "a tremendous young talent in our party." Wynn said he believed Ford made it clear he wants the United States out of Iraq, but "he also made it very clear that we need to think beyond cliches. My race is not going to be a bunch of cliches...We're going to talk about issues, substance and policy. We're going to try to bring some depth to how we deal with the 21st century."

Edwards will hold her campaign kick-off at Watkins Park on June 30.

By Rosalind Helderman  |  June 8, 2007; 11:20 AM ET
Categories:  Rosalind Helderman  
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