Leftists start recoloring Dem Party

Leaders of progressive organizations that poured money and manpower into Donna Edwards’ resounding victory over eight-term incumbent U.S. Rep. Al Wynn say they hope to use the Maryland model to oust more Democrats they feel aren’t getting the job done.

Analysts say labor and liberal Democrats in Congress may tend to be more “disciplined” after seeing Edwards’ drubbing of eight-term incumbent Wynn with nearly 60 percent of the vote to his 36.5 percent.

While Wynn outraised Edwards over the entire course of the campaign, collecting more than $1 million to her approximately $800,000, some labor unions, feminist groups and environmental groups spent hundreds of thousands of dollars on phone banks, door-to-door campaigning and mailing pieces on her behalf in the final two weeks of the campaign.

The groups such as Emily’s List, the League of Conservation Voters and the Service Employees International Union faulted Wynn for initially supporting the Iraq war, for taking money from corporations like Wal-Mart and voting for tougher bankruptcy laws.

“She could call on them not just for ads and money but phone-banking, campaign organization and grassroots tactics,” University of Maryland political science professor Ron Walters said.

Service Employees International Union Secretary-Treasurer Anna Burger said union leaders sent 12,000 mailers to local members, and ran Internet, TV and radio ads about the race. According to Burger, union members made 10,000 phone calls and knocked on 5,000 doors in support of Edwards’ candidacy.

Walters said this was a “very, very significant victory” for the progressive groups, which could use the race to instill “discipline” in elected officials.

Analysts say Edwards also benefited from voters who went in with “change” on their mind. Prince George’s County residents, which make up the bulk of the district, voted overwhelmingly for Sen. Barack Obama, who uses “change” as his motto.

“I think half of the turnout in this race was driven by the presidential race,” said analyst David Wasserman with the non-partisan Cook Political Report. “It’s evident from the results that Obama supporters saw Donna Edwards as his natural ideological heir further down the ballot.”


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