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SEIU's Unprecedented Effort in 4th District

Rosalind Helderman

Did you see the ad on tv this weekend featuring the black and white photo of U.S. Rep. Albert R. Wynn (D) and the voiceover that says "Al Wynn's changed. Now we need a change"? If so, you weren't alone.

The Service Employees International Union, which is backing Wynn opponent Donna F. Edwards, plunked down $470,060 for the ads on Friday. That buys a lot of spots, so the ad was all over the airwaves this weekend. The union followed up with more than $126,000 in spending on the race the next day.

SEIU's Committee on Political Education and the Political Action Fund of 1199 SEIU, the union's regional group on the Eastern seaboard, have now together spent more than $550,000 on this race. Those figures will likely only rise between now and the Feb. 12 election.

To put that kind of spending in context, that represents more money than either Edwards or Wynn have raised for their own campaigns in the last four months.

Other unions are backing Wynn, including the AFL-CIO, though it has not yet mounted any kind of independent effort on his behalf. Stephanie Mueller, a spokeswoman for SEIU, said the union has decided to target the Democratic incumbent in a safe Democratic district as part of a national effort to become more politically active and convince politicians of both parties they are watching.

"Our members feel Albert Wynn has not been standing up for them," she said, adding, "We will watch candidates every day they're in office and make sure they stand up for working people."

Wynn's campaign is crying foul over the money being spent by the union and other groups in the race, suggesting they prove Edwards is a tool of a small group of individuals, many with SEIU ties, trying to buy an election.

"Voters in this district are very smart," Wynn campaign manager Lori Sherwood said Friday. "They understand there is a negative, nasty campaign being run to distort the congressman's record."

By Rosalind Helderman  |  February 4, 2008; 12:45 PM ET
Categories:  Rosalind Helderman  
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Comments

As a lifelong resident of Montgomery County and political observer all along, I know we have NEVER had an "independent" political expenditure of this size in a Congressional race in Maryland. The fact that Donna Edwards is trying to take advantage of it and is not condemning this expenditure shows that she will be a poor Member of Congress and that she does not put the people of Prince Georges and Montgomery Counties before the special interests. This expenditure is the equivalent of an "independent," expenditure of $232 million in the Presidential race. It should me condemned for what it is: a blatant attempt to buy a Congressional seat for selfish, not public purposes. Harry Truman would have cussed SEIU out.

Posted by: Robin Ficker Broker Robin Realty | February 4, 2008 1:45 PM | Report abuse

Correction, this expenditure is the equivalent of an "independent" expenditure of $259,000,000 is the Presidential Race.

Posted by: $259,000,000 | February 4, 2008 2:14 PM | Report abuse

Actually, Al Wynn HAS changed -- for the better. Ever since Donna Edwards scared the bejesus out of him in 2006, his voting record is more progressive, he is reaching out more to the communities he represents and he is working much harder to communicate his voting record on issues of concern to the 4th District.

Posted by: Interested Democrat | February 4, 2008 4:04 PM | Report abuse

I didn't see that ad but I did see the racially offensive ad Wynn is running which shows Edwards as a puppet on a string with two white people in the background followed by scenes of Mr. Wynn in various photos with black people and a voiceover about him being for the "community."

Posted by: Upper Marlboro | February 4, 2008 4:09 PM | Report abuse

I'm thrilled to have a good Democratic option to Wynn - he's from one of the safest D districts in the country, and yet he joins the Congressional leadership in giving this administration just about everything Bush asks for, and fails to fight the White House on anything. Donna Edwards can't be any worse. Moreover, she might be better.

Posted by: Kate | February 4, 2008 6:35 PM | Report abuse

Independent expenditures are just that -- independent. A candidate can't control what outside groups are spending or doing.

It speaks volumes that with all of Wynn's special interest money, it's Donna's supporters who are willing to spend their money to get their message out. At this point, Wynn's supporters would be better off saving their money.

Posted by: Art | February 4, 2008 7:44 PM | Report abuse

An expenditure the size of SEIU's is so out of proportion, so blatant, so stultifying that it is inherently not "independent." There had to be approval by Edwards, some nodding of the head, some wink of the eye. And for this she should be condemned. In some instances her interests will be aligned with SEIU's, but in others there will be a conflict with the public interest and she will go with SEIU's. She had the chance to run a forthright campaign, but she chose this way. This is not what the founding fathers envisioned. The people of Montgomery County do not want this. We have some integrity. Edwards should be booed on every corner.

Posted by: Robin Ficker Broker Robin Realty | February 5, 2008 2:23 AM | Report abuse

An expenditure the size of SEIU's is so out of proportion, so blatant, so stultifying that it is inherently not "independent." There had to be approval by Edwards, some nodding of the head, some wink of the eye. And for this she should be condemned. In some instances her interests will be aligned with SEIU's, but in others there will be a conflict with the public interest and she will go with SEIU's. She had the chance to run a forthright campaign, but she chose this way. This is not what the founding fathers envisioned. The people of Montgomery County do not want this. We have some integrity. Edwards should be booed on every corner.

Posted by: Robin Ficker Broker Robin Realty | February 5, 2008 2:24 AM | Report abuse

The realtor [above] doth protest too much. She should disclose her conflict of interest. While she complains bitterly about service employees' support for Donna Edwards, the National Association of REALTORS is currently running massive advertising and mail campaigns imploring us to keep Al Wynn in Congress to do their bidding!

Posted by: PetePeyser | February 8, 2008 12:06 AM | Report abuse

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