Tight Senate Race Turns to Baltimore for Votes

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Congresswoman Donna Edwards touts historic nature of campaign in city against house colleague Chris Van Hollen that could result in just the second African-American woman in US senate

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Story Transcript

TAYA GRAHAM: It is a campaign that could lead to a historic election which could have national implications. The race for an open Maryland Senate seat that pits a consignment political insider, Congressmen Chris Van Hollen against 2 term representative Donna Edwards in a tight race, current polls show is dead even.

Edwards if elected would be the first African American woman from Maryland to serve in the Senate. A prospect that she touted while addressing a crowd of supporters in Baltimore on Saturday.

DONNA EDWARDS: I look at this room and I see the absolute power of women. I see the power of us to have our own voice when it comes to our public policy. If we are willing, if we are able to recognize our full economic capacity as women, to be paid a dollar on a dollar. We can save for our own retirement. We can invest in our children, our families, and our neighborhoods. We can invest in our own future as entrepreneurs, as business leaders. We can do that.

GRAHAM: A city, her campaign says maybe critical with its predominately African American population. But looming over her support here was a key endorsement that was withheld. In her early pledge to back former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in her presidential bid against Senator Bernie Sanders. First we pressed her why the political pact for the congressional black caucus tabled a vote to endorse her.

EDWARDS: Speak for them, they have to speak for themselves. What I can say is that it is a packed board that is filled with a lot of industry lobbyists. A lot of those industries are industries that I’ve gone up against. You know, whether you’re talking about the pharmaceutical industry. I want to negotiate prescription drug prices and the pharmaceutical industry doesn’t want that. It is a surprise to me that one of their lobbyists wouldn’t support me going on to the United States Senate? Not a big surprise.

GRAHAM: A move she attributed to the influence of lobbyists who sit on the organization’s board. 

EDWARDS: CBC PAC is a political action committee. It is not the Congressional Black Caucus. There are many members of the Congressional Black Caucus on their own who have endorsed me and I’m proud to have their support. But when I’m elected to the United States Senate I don’t feel like owing industry or industry lobbyists for my Senate seat.

GRAHAM: We asked the CBC PAC for comment but they did not respond. We also asked Edwards about another contentious issue. Why she’d endorsed Hillary Clinton and not Sanders? She told us .it was in part due to timing; not just policy

EDWARDS: First of all, I came out to supporting Hillary Clinton, I think before Bernie Sanders got into the race. And so that’s one reason and I never renege on any of my supporter endorsement. I feel strongly about Bernie Sander’s campaign and all the issues that he’s raising. I think it’s healthy for the Democratic Party to have a strong and progressive debate about our future and I look forward to whoever our nominee is and I hope it’s Hillary Clinton.

STEPHEN JANIS: Do you support Bernie Sander’s single payer system? Well that’s kind of like something you supported, will you continue to support that?

EDWARDS: In the past I had supported a single payer going into the Affordable Care Act. Now I believe we have the Affordable Care Act and its time for us to make sure that we can make the kind of progressive improvements and changes to it, so it allows us to build a healthcare system that really works for patients and for workers and consumers and not for insurance companies.

GRAHAM: Edwards also declined to weigh in on which of the nearly 14 Democratic candidates for Mayor she favors. Telling us she prefers to stay out of the crowded race.

EDWARDS: I mean I really do believe in people kind of running their own races and making the pitch to the voters. Because the accountability is to voters and I expect the same thing in my race as I expect in any other.

GRAHAM: Still support for Edwards, this campaign event in the heart of the city seemed enthusiastic. The question is, will it be enough in a race that up until now has been too close to call? This is Taya Graham and Stephen Janis reporting for the Real News Network, in Baltimore City, Maryland.

End

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