I had the opportunity to talk with Donna Edwards for a while at the SEIU 2008 convention. She says that you should run for office, and a lot more than that.
This year Donna Edwards challenged incumbent “corporate Democrat” Al Wynn for Maryland’s 4th Congressional District in the primary election and won, with help from the Netroots, multiple progressive organizations and labor, including a great deal of help from the SEIU. Her win is “reverberating – wide and deep” among members of Congress. It shows that accountability has arrived. It also shows that “Democrats can do this without begging and relying on corporate interests.” She goes on to say,
“There is a huge lesson in this. A lot of elected officials start out in the grassroots community – and then the money happens. One step after another they are following the corporate agenda.”
She says that help from the netroots will “enable candidates like us to be as independent inside as we were on the pathway getting there.”
In 2006 Donna ran against Wynn and lost by 2731 votes. Many progressive organizations and labor groups were reluctant to challenge any Democratic incumbent. After that defeat she went from labor organization to labor organization saying that she was just one union hall away from winning. So in 2008 a coalition of labor and progressives joined up, and she ended up winning the primary by 20 points. Incumbent Wynn resigned from office and immediately joined a lobbying firm for big bucks.
She says the wind of change is out there, a demand for change is building. She says regular people have to run for office to start building a farm team for change. Regular people have a story to tell, and the more we run regular folks, the more opportunity there is to tell the public where we have to go. The power of the moneyed interests that want to keep us where we are is incredible so we have to empower regular people to tell their stories.
She said she talked to a number of people, telling them they should run, and finally decided to run herself. “But why didn’t I say that first?” She wants all of us to say that first. (Not that Donna should run, but that YOU should run.) Progressives need to create a farm team to run for office.
From Left: Todd Beeton (MyDD), Donna Edwards, Watertiger (Firedoglake) and me.
Disclaimer: Blogger hotel and airfare paid for by the SEIU