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Edwards Not Only Dem Interested in District 4

Rosalind Helderman

Here's someone unhappy that the Maryland General Assembly has passed legislation to eliminate a special primary election to fill out Rep. Albert R. Wynn (D)'s congressional term: Jason Jennings, a former contestant for the seat.

Jennings, a utility consultant from Montgomery County, was one of five Democrats who challenged Wynn for the seat in February. He's far less well known than nonprofit executive Donna F. Edwards, who soundly defeated Wynn and will take on the Republican nominee in November.

Wynn announced he will resign from Congress on May 31. That meant Gov. Martin O'Malley was left with the choice of leaving his seat vacant until January or holding primary and general elections to find a temp to fill in until then. Instead, he proposed legislation, which passed the assembly last week, that will allow the district to hold just one special election, featuring candidates chosen by the party apparatus.

That pleases many people in the state, who believe it's a way to cut down on the expense of what is widely-considered to be an elaborate and costly formality standing in the way of Edwards assuming her seat a bit early.

But not Jennings, who got 1.1 percent of the vote in February -- exactly tying fellow Democrat Michael Babula for fourth place in the contest.

He says he would have run against Edwards in a Democratic primary to be the temporary representative -- and in a low-turnout special primary, who knows the outcome? He noted many people told him they were interested in voting for him but were so disenchanted with Wynn they felt the need to back Edwards to get him out of office.

A special primary election, sans Wynn, would have been a chance to see how much of Edwards' support came from those who were simply trying to oust Wynn and how much "constitutes the development of the base of Ms. Edwards," Jennings said.

Jennings said the cost of two special elections was a concern to him too but suggested O'Malley could have eliminated the primary process by declaring an open general election, in which anyone interested could have run.

Even so, Jennings said he will seek the Democratic party's nomination in the process established by the legislation. In fact, he said he plans to start calling Democratic central committee members in Montgomery and Prince George's to let them know he's interested. "Otherwise, they might not even know," he said.

By Rosalind Helderman  |  April 15, 2008; 12:03 PM ET
Categories:  Rosalind Helderman  
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