In April of this year, U.S. Senator Barbara Mikulski (D-Maryland) announced that she would not seek another term. One of the Senate’s big spenders, she was recently named by the nonprofit Citizens Against Government Waste as the Porker of the Month for seeking to break through Federal spending caps she voted for and that President Barack Obama supported. She would retire in 2017.
Currently, there are two Democrats who are the top contenders for her job. Maryland, since it borders Washington D.C., is replete with federal and state government employees who tend towards the Democratic party. 
U.S Rep Donna Edwards, 57, who is favored by progressives, is running an aggressive campaign against U.S. Representative Chris Van Hollen. In a video, Edwards struck out at Van Hollen, saying that "political insiders are gaming out a partisan advantage." As Edwards speaks on the video, a headline from Roll Call appears on the screen, saying "Government shutdown could help Democrats, Van Hollen says." Van Hollen is currently the lead Democrat on the House Budget Committee. "It's something that would be bad for the country, putting politics aside," Roll Call quotes Van Hollen saying. "In this case, what happens to be bad policy happens to be bad politics."
Edwards has put herself to the left of Van Hollen on gun control. In an opinion piece published this summer in the Baltimore Sun, Edwards advocated for banning so-called assault weapons as well as prohibiting the sale of firearms to domestic abusers. “We have to take on the NRA with the force of a nation under siege,” wrote Edwards in her op-ed, “and the passion of a people committed to ridding our country of a dangerous and deadly gun epidemic.” She was later quoted by the newspaper, saying, “We still have to close some gaps. Even in the face of strong laws in Maryland, if we don’t have that type of strength across the country, it makes it really difficult.” Edwards promises to carry on Mikulsky’s legacy, while castigating Van Hollen for his deviations from progressivism.
For his part, Van Hollen has introduced a bill that would require new handgun licensing requirements, plus make buying firearms from private deals and gun shows more difficult. In the Maryland General assembly in 2000, he led an effort to require a state-wide trigger lock law. For this, Van Hollen has been endorsed by Vincent DeMarco, the president of Marylanders to Prevent Gun Violence.
Edwards campaign website touts her thus:
"As a single African American mom, Donna’s seen how special interests can dismantle the middle class and hurt our most vulnerable. She’s never shied away from fighting back. That’s why she stood up to big developers and special interests in Prince George’s County to protect union jobs, build 400 family homes, and provide safe, reliable access to the natural environment."
"In Congress, Donna’s been a progressive fighter for women’s reproductive rights, never compromising on a woman’s right to a safe and legal abortion. She’s championed equal pay for equal work, authored legislation to support 10,000 Maryland jobs as a Ranking Member of the Space, Science, and Technology Committee, and ensured that thousands of meals have been served to low-income students across our state. And as the daughter of an Air Force Dad and sister of a veteran, she knows we must keep our promise to those who serve."
Edwards picked up the endorsement of a machinists’ union on September 28, while progressives are also supporting her. Democracy for America and the Progressive Change Campaign Committee, which represent the progressive wing of the Democratic party, approve of her candidacy. Besides gun control, Edwards also favors “debt-free” higher education: a key plank in the Democrats’ progressive platform that has found support from presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders, and Massachusetts liberal Sen. Elizabeth Warren.



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Spero News writer Martin Barillas is a former US diplomat, who also worked as a democracy advocate and election observer in Latin America. His first novel 'Shaken Earth', is available at Amazon.

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