Almanac A members-only database of searchable profiles compiled and adapted from the Almanac of American Politics

Rep. Donna Edwards (D)

Maryland | District 4

Leadership: House Democratic Steering and Policy Committee Co-Chair

4mddistrict@mail.house.gov

donnaedwards.house.gov

Biography

Elected: June 2008, 4th full term.

Born: June 28, 1958, Yanceyville, NC

Home: Fort Washington, MD

Education: Wake Forest U., B.A., 1980, Franklin Pierce Law Center, J.D., 1989

Professional Career: Lockheed Engineering, 1982-86; Lobbyist, Public Citizen and Congress Watch, 1992-94; Executive director, Center for a New Democracy, 1994-96; Co-founder and executive director, National Network to End Domestic Violence, 1996-99; Executive director, The Arca Foundation, 2000-08.

Ethnicity: Black/African American

Religion: Baptist

Family: Engaged , 1 child

Democrat Donna Edwards, who won a special election in June 2008, is the first black woman to represent Maryland in Congress. A passionate liberal, she is known for her drive and ambition as well as her occasional tendency to rile the state’s Democratic establishment. She entered the House Democratic leadership ranks in 2015 by becoming co-chair of the Democratic Steering & Policy Committee.

Edwards was born in North Carolina, the second of six children. The family moved frequently as a result of her father’s career in the Air Force. Edwards says she learned adaptability from her mother, and, as she told The Washington Post, “There’s not a room I go in where I feel like a stranger.” She was president of her high school class in New Mexico, and returned to her home state for college at Wake Forest University, where she was one of six African-American women in her class. She went to work for Lockheed at the Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md., and after the 1986 explosion of the space shuttle Challenger, she decided to attend law school.

At Franklin Pierce University in New Hampshire, she focused on public-interest law. She settled in Fort Washington, Md., and clerked for a District of Columbia Superior Court judge. Later, she co-founded and was the first executive director of the National Network to End Domestic Violence. Edwards earned national recognition for her work on behalf of battered women. She was also executive director of the Center for a New Democracy, where she focused on campaign finance reform. In 2000, she became executive director of The Arca Foundation in Washington, which focuses on social equity and justice.

After separating from her husband, Edwards briefly was homeless and then lived with her young son in a room in her mother’s home. In voicing her support for President Barack Obama at the 2012 Democratic National Convention, she talked of her experience battling pneumonia and being forced to go to a food bank. “He knows that no one should end up in an emergency room, facing financial ruin and the loss of a middle-class life, just because they can’t afford a doctor’s visit and $20 of antibiotics,” she said.

In 2006, Edwards challenged seven-term Rep. Albert Wynn in the Democratic primary and surprised him with a late-blossoming but well-funded campaign. She ran to his left ideologically, benefited from strong local opposition to the Iraq war, which Wynn backed, and attacked the incumbent’s close ties to business interests. Wynn accused Edwards of distorting his record. He won, but by a hair, 49.7%-46.4%. Wynn took his home Prince George’s County, 57%-40%. In Montgomery, which cast 32% of the vote, Edwards led 60%-35%. Following that contest, Wynn increased his visibility in the district and cosponsored a resolution to impeach Vice President Dick Cheney. But Edwards almost immediately began preparing for a rematch in two years.

In the 2008 primary, she benefitted from the support of MoveOn.org, the liberal grassroots group, and EMILY’s List, the women’s fundraising powerhouse. She did not take money from political action committees, and she criticized Wynn for his reliance on special interest money. Still, she was able to raise and spend $1 million to get her message to voters. The outcome this time was not close. Boosted by heavy turnout from the presidential primary, Edwards won, 59%-37%. She led 55%-41% in Prince George’s, and 67%-27% in Montgomery County.

Six weeks later, but before the general election, Wynn unexpectedly announced he was quitting Congress to join the Washington law firm of Dickstein Shapiro. That decision gave Edwards a chance to take the seat early and have at least some seniority over other freshmen in the upcoming election. Wynn formally resigned on May 31, 2008. Democratic Gov. Martin O’Malley scheduled a special election for June 17; Edwards won 81%-18% over Republican Peter James, a technology developer, in a low-turnout event. She has been politically untouchable since.

Edwards is an extremely loyal Democrat, and was among those tied for most-liberal member in National Journal’s 2011 and 2013 rankings. She occasionally has brought unwanted attention to herself. At a Washington Press Club Foundation dinner in 2014, her joking criticisms of Republicans were viewed as going too far over the line; at one point, she compared working with the GOP to a commercial for the erectile-dysfunction drug Cialis. "Rep. Donna Edwards Weirds Out Washington," read a headline in U.S. News & World Report.

The House in December 2011 tabled a resolution she offered to admonish tea party hero Rep. Allen West of Florida for saying that Nazi propagandist Joseph Goebbels would be “very proud” of Democrats’ messaging efforts. She criticized the Obama administration’s efforts in Afghanistan and cosponsored Ohio Democrat Dennis Kucinich’s failed proposal in March 2010 to withdraw U.S. forces there. On the Science, Space, and Technology Committee, she has worked for greater tracking of minorities’ participation in science and math programs. To show her concern for climate change, she plunged into the icy Potomac River in January 2011 with 200 local activists at an event sponsored by the Chesapeake Climate Action Network.

Edwards reportedly mulled a bid for House Democratic Caucus vice chair in November 2012 but opted not to run. She was alone among Maryland’s House Democrats in expressing opposition to a ballot question to expand gambling in the state, saying there were better means of economic development. The Post reported that she had alienated colleagues who said she needed to forge better relationships within the state party. Earlier that year, Edwards refused to back Rob Garagiola, the state Senate majority leader and an ally of House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer of Maryland in an April primary to run against incumbent GOP Rep. Roscoe Bartlett. She endorsed businessman John Delaney, who ended up winning the seat.

But Edwards also has sought to mend fences with her party's leaders. She served as co-chair of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee's candidate-recruitment effort in 2012, and in 2014 took full charge of the effort. She often turned up on talk shows to give the party line, and helped organize a national bus tour in which she and Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi appealed to women voters.

After the Democrats' drubbing at the polls in 2014, the influential liberal website Daily Kos touted Edwards as a potential DCCC chair, saying, "If you’re a longtime Daily Kos reader, you will remember that Donna Edwards is one of us." But Pelosi named Edwards co-chair of the Steering & Policy Committee, a powerful group that makes committee assignments and other internal decisions.

Office Contact Information

MAIN OFFICE

(202) 225-8699

(202) 225-8714

RHOB- Rayburn House Office Building Room 2445
Washington, DC 20515-2004

MAIN OFFICE

(202) 225-8699

(202) 225-8714

RHOB- Rayburn House Office Building Room 2445
Washington, DC 20515-2004

DISTRICT OFFICE

(301) 516-7601

(301) 516-7608

5001 Silver Hill Road Suite 106
Suitland, MD 20746-5208

DISTRICT OFFICE

(301) 516-7601

(301) 516-7608

5001 Silver Hill Road Suite 106
Suitland, MD 20746-5208

DISTRICT OFFICE

(410) 421-8061

(410) 421-8065

877 Baltimore Annapolis Boulevard Unit 101
Severna Park, MD 21146-4701

DISTRICT OFFICE

(410) 421-8061

(410) 421-8065

877 Baltimore Annapolis Boulevard Unit 101
Severna Park, MD 21146-4701

CAMPAIGN OFFICE

(240) 696-2104

PO Box 44305
Fort Washington, MD 20749

CAMPAIGN OFFICE

PO Box 44305
Fort Washington, MD 20749

EXPORT CONTACTS » *

Staff

Sort by: Interest Name Title

Aerospace

Anne Nelson
Legislative Assistant

Agriculture

Anne Nelson
Legislative Assistant

Appropriations

Anne Nelson
Legislative Assistant

Budget

Christopher Schloesser
Legislative Director

Economics

Christopher Schloesser
Legislative Director

Education

Anne Nelson
Legislative Assistant

Energy

Anne Nelson
Legislative Assistant

Environment

Anne Nelson
Legislative Assistant

Govt Ops

Christopher Schloesser
Legislative Director

Jeff Kaloc
Legislative Correspondent

jeff.kaloc@mail.house.gov
(410) 421-8061

Homeland Security

Christopher Schloesser
Legislative Director

Immigration

Jeff Kaloc
Legislative Correspondent

jeff.kaloc@mail.house.gov
(410) 421-8061

Intelligence

Christopher Schloesser
Legislative Director

Judiciary

Christopher Schloesser
Legislative Director

Labor

Anne Nelson
Legislative Assistant

Military

Christopher Schloesser
Legislative Director

Florence Champagne
Constituent Services Representative

Public Works

Christopher Schloesser
Legislative Director

Science

Anne Nelson
Legislative Assistant

Technology

Anne Nelson
Legislative Assistant

Telecommunications

Anne Nelson
Legislative Assistant

Transportation

Christopher Schloesser
Legislative Director

Veterans

Christopher Schloesser
Legislative Director

Florence Champagne
Constituent Services Representative

** denotes a leadership staffer

Election Results

2012 GENERAL
Donna Edwards
Votes: 240,385
Percent: 77.26%
Faith Loudon
Votes: 64,560
Percent: 20.75%
2012 PRIMARY
Donna Edwards
Votes: 42,815
Percent: 91.8%
George McDermott
Votes: 2,359
Percent: 5.06%
2010 GENERAL
Donna Edwards
Votes: 160,228
Percent: 83.44%
Robert Broadus
Votes: 31,467
Percent: 16.39%
2010 PRIMARY
Donna Edwards
Votes: 56,737
Percent: 83.56%
Herman Taylor
Votes: 5,972
Percent: 8.8%
2008 GENERAL
Donna Edwards
Votes: 258,704
Percent: 85.83%
Peter James
Votes: 38,739
Percent: 12.85%
2008 SPECIAL
Donna Edwards
Votes: 16,481
Percent: 80.54%
Peter James
Votes: 3,638
Percent: 17.77%
2008 PRIMARY
Donna Edwards
Votes: 78,008
Percent: 58.86%
Albert Wynn
Votes: 48,885
Percent: 36.88%
Prior Winning Percentages
2010 (83%), 2008 (86%), 2008 special (81%)

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