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Mfume Endorses Edwards. But Not 'Till Next Week!

Rosalind Helderman

It appears former Congressman Kweisi Mfume will endorse Donna F. Edwards in her bid to unseat eight-term U.S. Rep. Albert R. Wynn (Md.-D).

At least, that's what the Edwards campaign told us via a media advisory at 6:58 p.m. last night, announcing that Mfume, the former head of the NAACP, would join her at coffee for residents of a Fort Washington retirement community this morning.

But at 10:25 p.m., another release arrived. "Due to scheduling changes, tomorrow's event has been rescheduled for Thursday, January 24th," it read.

Mfume's five terms in Congress partly overlapped Wynn's own tenure in the House of Representatives. Her release called Mfume "a tireless advocate for universally accessible healthcare, fighting against the pharmaceutical companies for affordable prescriptions."

Edwards has been endorsed by two major unions and a variety of state and national progressive groups, but Mfume will be the boldest bold name in Maryland politics so far to back her effort to unseat the eight-term congressman. So it was strange that the campaign would allow word of his support to dribble out without taking full advantage of the announcement.

Wynn backed Mfume in his run for the U.S. Senate in 2006, when he mounted an unsuccessful challenge to then-Rep. Benjamin Cardin for the Democratic nomination--though not until about two weeks before Election Day. At the time, observers suggested Wynn's endorsement came in time to boost support for Mfume but perhaps too late to help with critical fundraising.

In a statement, Wynn campaign manager Lori Sherwood said, "This week Congressman Wynn was honored to receive the endorsements of both [the union] AFSCME 2250 and Planned Parenthood. Congressman Wynn continues to receive the endorsements that most represent the interests of the people of the 4th Congressional district."

For the record, the Mfume press event might have been canceled, but the coffee seemed to go on as planned. Edwards came by the retirement community. And so did a black town car carrying the former congressman. But Edwards' staffers said a decision had been made that the event was intended to be an "intimate" meeting with the community's residents and hence would be closed to media. Apologetically, they insisted all explanations for why Mfume is backing their candidate will be forthcoming. In a week.

By Rosalind Helderman  |  January 17, 2008; 11:19 AM ET
Categories:  Rosalind Helderman  
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