In the end, the bitter Maryland Democratic Senate primary came down to this: Representative Donna Edwards, the exemplary progressive outsider, couldn’t defeat the ultimate insider, Representative Chris Van Hollen, the well-liked scion of the state’s Democratic establishment, with ties to big party donors he forged running its congressional campaign committee. To be fair, Van Hollen’s record is nearly as progressive as Edwards’s.Nearly as progressive—but not quite. The insurgent Edwards would have been only the second African-American woman in history to serve in the Senate.

 

As Hillary Clinton rides to the Democratic nomination on the strength of African-American support—and with the backing of almost 80 percent of black women in Democratic primaries—the Democratic Party’s candidate diversity is an issue that will define the party, and may divide it, in years to come. There was a stunning racial gap in the race: Van Hollen won three-quarters of white voters, while Edwards won almost two-thirds of blacks. And among voters who supported Clinton, he beat Edwards by 13 points.

Though polls showed Edwards leading Van Hollen as recently as three weeks ago, the weight of the Democratic machine came down behind him in big and small ways in the closing days. Local elected officials who endorsed him—and he had most of them—distributed Democratic “slates” that listed him, though he was never endorsed by any official party apparatus. Powerful Maryland Representative Steny Hoyer officially stayed neutral, but was widely perceived as supporting Van Hollen. The leaders of Maryland’s House of Delegates and state Senate formally endorsed him and threw their full support behind him. “She was up against the Democratic machine, and party leaders here hate—really hate—when minority candidates try to play up the historic aspect of their candidacy,” said former state delegate Gerron Levi, a staunch Edwards backer.

Read the Article – Source: Why Donna Edwards Lost—and Why It Matters for the Future of the Democratic Party | The Nation

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