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Wynn challenger gathering funds from outside state

- The Washington Times - Monday, January 14, 2008

Outside money is pouring into one Democratic congressional primary in Maryland where longtime Rep. Albert R. Wynn is trying to fend off a challenger who nearly ousted him two years ago.

Federal records show that among individual donors for much of last year, Donna Edwards, a lawyer, received more money from California than from Maryland in her bid to represent the heavily Democratic 4th District, which includes parts of Montgomery and Prince George's counties.

Mrs. Edwards raised $161,000 in individual contributions, with $23,760 from Maryland supporters, according to analysis of Federal Election Commission donations from January through September 2007.

She also received more than $45,649 from donors in California, including $1,000 from singer Barbra Streisand; $34,850 from the District; and $21,870 from supporters living in New York, disclosure filings show.

In addition, the national political arm of the Service Employees International Union recently reported to the FEC that it was paying $250,000 for a media buy opposing Mr. Wynn.

The union has endorsed Mrs. Edwards. Under federal law, the union's political action committee is not allowed to coordinate with her campaign. The primary election is Feb. 12.

Mrs. Edwards said her fundraising figures are an example of what she called "the overwhelming call for change in Congress right now."

"I am proud that progressives across this district and around the country are taking note that I have and will continue to work for the issues that matter most to them — comprehensive health care, environmental stewardship and taking care of the needs of working families in our district," she said. By contrast, Mr. Wynn raised more money from individual donors, but he received less support from those outside Maryland. During the same nine-month period, he raised $291,000 in contributions from individual donors, with $207,000 coming from supporters in Maryland, including more than $25,000 from employees at Baltimore-based Doracon Contracting.

Mr. Wynn also had raised nearly $300,000 from political action committees from January through September, while Mrs. Edwards reported almost all of her funds coming from individual donors. Wynn spokeswoman Lori Sherwood declined to discuss fundraising totals for either candidate, saying only that Mr. Wynn was focused on running a positive race on the issues.

"We're running a positive campaign and people appreciate that," she said. Miss Sherwood also said that despite the SEIU endorsement for Mrs. Edwards, Mr. Wynn has won endorsements from several other labor unions.

Mrs. Edwards came within 2,731 votes of upsetting Mr. Wynn in the 2006 primary, or about 3 percent of the vote. The race has turned increasingly personal in recent weeks. Mrs. Edwards recently criticized Mr. Wynn for attending what she called a "high-dollar lobbyist breakfast" with officials at a nuclear power operating company.

She said the meeting showed he "has chosen the side of corporate interests." In response, Wynn's campaign countered by saying Mrs. Edwards had ties to oil and gas companies through her job as executive director at the Arca Foundation, in the District. Both candidates have touted their alliances with organized labor.