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Edwards Sworn Into Congress

Anne Bartlett

U.S. Rep. Donna F. Edwards (D) was sworn in today as a member of the House of Representatives, becoming the first black woman to serve in Congress from the state of Maryland.

Surrounded by the state's congressional delegation and introduced by House Majority Leader Steny H. Hoyer (D-Md.), Edwards took the oath on the House floor, as family and supporters in a packed visitor gallery gave out a cheer.

Donna Edwards is joined by her mother, Mary, and son, Jared, at a reception on Capitol Hill. (Linda Davidson/TWP)
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Edwards noted that she was sworn in on Juneteeth, which commemorates the end of slavery, and was using the same words sworn by her father and brother when they entered the Air Force.

She said voters in the district, which includes parts of Montgomery and Prince George's County, "sent a strong message of change" with her election.

"I am here with my sleeves rolled up, ready to work, ready to help put Washington back on the side of everyday hardworking people," she said.

Hoyer noted that when he was elected to Congress in 1981, half of Maryland's delegation in the House of Representatives was female but, in recent years, it had become all male.

"We are extraordinarily proud you have joined us, and our delegation will be stronger, better and more representative for that," he said.

Edwards captured more than 80 percent of the vote in a special election Tuesday in which she defeated Republican Peter James and Libertarian Thibeaux Lincecum. Edwards unseated incumbent Rep. Albert R. Wynn (D) in a February primary, overwhelming the eight-term congressman by arguing he had become beholden to corporate interests and pointing to his 2002 vote to authorize the use of force in Iraq.

Wynn resigned from Congress on May 31 to join the law firm Dickstein Shapiro LLP. Edwards' February primary win earned her a spot on the November ballot to determine congressional representation starting in January. She got a jumpstart on her service after Wynn resigned early, prompting the special election. She will face James again in the November general election.

Edwards, 49, lives in Fort Washington. She served until recently as executive director of the Arca Foundation, a grant-making charitable group. A longtime community activist, she had never run for elected office before challenging Wynn in 2006, stunning many at the time by coming within 3 percentage points of ousting the long-time representative.

By Anne Bartlett  |  June 19, 2008; 4:31 PM ET
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We're a more hopeful county with her in office.
--A Prince Georgian.

Posted by: cbreilly | June 19, 2008 6:17 PM | Report abuse

Even though I live in Steny Hoyer's district and not hers, I'm really glad she won.

Posted by: Greenbelt Gal | June 19, 2008 9:53 PM | Report abuse

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