The country as a whole may not be paying attention to the senatorial dust-up between Chris Van Hollen and Donna Edwards, but this race does have implications that reach beyond Maryland.
Basically, Edwards is trying to mount a Sanders-esque insurgency against Van Hollen, who has a solid liberal record. Her argument seems to be that Van Hollen's pale skin and possession of a penis makes him indistinguishable from Rush Limbaugh. Her framing of the contest led to a particularly stark and ugly NYT headline: "White Man or Black Woman?"
As if no other factors matter. As if identity politics should trump all other concerns.
I suspect that there are a lot of black people who would not vote for Ben Carson based purely on skin color, and I suspect that many women would not vote for Michele Bachmann based purely on sex.
Just a couple of weeks ago, Edwards was up by four points
. However, a more recent poll puts Van Hollen ahead by 14
. She's slipping.
Part of the problem is simply her personality
Sources close to the CBC and lawmakers familiar with the conversations said some of Edwards’ CBC colleagues responded to her in frank terms. Members of the CBC have long considered her abrasive and said she’s not an easy colleague to work with.
“She has not developed good relationships with the members of the CBC, quite frankly,” said a source familiar with the CBC. “A lot of people find her difficult.”
Another part of the problem has to do with the kind of campaign she has mounted.
I think that more than a few people have soured on her after a deceptive Edwards attack
linking Van Hollen to the NRA, even though everyone knows that the gun organization has no love for him. (They gave him an "F" rating.)
You see, Van Hollen championed the DISCLOSE Act, which sheds light on corporate donors to candidates. The NRA and the AFL-CIO opposed some aspects of this act. Like it or not, there are quite a few pro-NRA Democrats. In order to pass the DISCLOSE Act, it had to be rewritten somewhat to mollify the NRA and the AFL-CIO. The only alternative would have been a "progressive purist" version of the Act which would never have become law.
So Van Hollen went for a compromise -- a justifiable compromise, in my view. The result was a law that does a lot of good. We're better off with the DISCLOSE Act than without it, even if it isn't ideal in its present form.
Compromise should not be considered a bad word, at least not in all situations. We had a lot more compromise back in the days before partisan gridlock poured concrete over the wheels of legislation.
At any rate, it is inane and deceptive to try to pretend that Chris Van Hollen is somehow in the pocket of the NRA.
I used to have a high opinion of Edwards, but those "NRA" ads -- which are running all over Baltimore teevee at this very moment -- have turned me against her. She represents everything I can't stand about the new politics of progressive purity. I've noticed that the "pure" ones tend to gravitate toward the tactics of Karl Rove.
In the case of Donna Edwards, those tactics may be backfiring.
There was a time not long ago when I thought that this country could use a left-wing analogue to the Tea Party. Now I see the disadvantages.
Of course, the "purity problem" is less apparent in a solidly blue state like Maryland than in a purple
state, where a candidate has to veer toward the center in the general election. That's why Harry Reid (from the purple state of Nevada) remains in the Senate, even though he was very vulnerable: His Tea Party opponent, Sharron Angle, was a creature of the far right, addicted to immoderation.
Here's the supreme irony.
From Donna Edwards' website
In 1994, as co-founder and executive director of the National Network to End Domestic Violence, she led the effort to pass the Violence Against Women Act that was signed into law by President Clinton.
Ah...but the Violence Against Women Act was a key part of that Omnibus Crime Bill which all good lefties are now supposed to despise (even though the CBC once supported it wholeheartedly, and even though Saint Bernie voted for it). Edwards doesn't advertise that
little fact, does she?