- The Washington Times - Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Rep. Albert R. Wynn yesterday tried for the second time in two years to fend off a Democratic primary challenge for his 4th Congressional District seat by lawyer Donna Edwards.

But with 88 of 173 precincts reporting last night, Mrs. Edwards led with 59 percent of the vote to 37 percent for Mr. Wynn.

The race was a rematch of the 2006 primary contest in which Mrs. Edwards, 49, came within 2,731 votes — about 3 percent of the total — of ousting Mr. Wynn in the district that covers parts of Montgomery and Prince George’s counties.

Maryland election officials extended poll hours 90 minutes, until 9:30 p.m., because of the winter storm that resulted in slick roads and sidewalks. Updated results can be found at www.elections. state.md.us/index html.

However, voters who cast ballots during the extended poll hours were required to cast provisional ballots, which will not be counted until Tuesday.

At the IBEW Local 26 Union Hall in Lanham, Mr. Wynn’s planned victory celebration — scheduled to begin at 8:15 p.m. — was put on hold.

Asked at about 10 p.m. whether he was a winner, Mr. Wynn responded, “I’m a winner, but that’s different from, ‘I won tonight,’ ” he said. “We may not know that for a while.”

Mrs. Edwards’ supporters gathered at the Radisson Hotel in Largo and expressed optimism amid indications that election results would not arrive until late into the night.

“She’s feeling great. She’s feeling very confident,” said Edwards spokesman Dan Weber. “As soon as this election is over, she’ll begin planning for the next election in November.”

Two issues of national importance were major factors in the race — the economy and the ongoing war in Iraq.

Mrs. Edwards criticized Mr. Wynn’s vote in 2005 for a measure tightening bankruptcy rules, which she says has made it harder for struggling homeowners facing foreclosures. Prince George’s has the highest rate of foreclosures in Maryland, a problem that is especially pronounced among black homeowners.

Mr. Wynn said he earned considerable clout in Congress during his 16 years in office on issues such as health care and education, and he accused Mrs. Edwards of offering little more than empty rhetoric. He acknowledged that the narrow 2006 vote exposed some unhappiness among voters but said he had heard them.

In 2006, Mr. Wynn did well with the largely black voters in Prince George’s County, while Mrs. Edwards had stronger support from white voters in Montgomery County. Both Mrs. Edwards of Fort Washington and Mr. Wynn of Mitchellville are black.

A national coterie of liberal bloggers and Internet sites — collectively known as “netroots” — organized against Mr. Wynn, one of a number of lawmakers deem too cozy with President Bush and Republicans in Congress.

Mr. Wynn has a solid Democratic voting record, including votes in favor of every antiwar measure this year and high scores from unions, environmentalists, homosexual rights groups and the pro-choice lobby.

Outside money poured into the contest, with Federal Election Commission records showing that among individual donors for much of last year, Mrs. Edwards received more money from California than from Maryland from January through September.

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 purchase opposing Mr. Wynn.

The race turned increasingly personal in its final weeks. Mrs. Edwards criticized Mr. Wynn for attending what she called a “high-dollar lobbyist breakfast” with officials at a nuclear-power operating company.

Mr. Wynn’s campaign countered that Mrs. Edwards had ties to oil and gas companies through her job as executive director at the Arca Foundation in the District.

Five other Maryland legislators were facing primary challenges yesterday. Easily expected to win their party’s nominations were incumbent congressmen John Sarbanes, District 3 Democrat; Steny H. Hoyer, District 5 Democrat; Roscoe G. Bartlett, District 6 Republican; Elijah E. Cummings, District 7 Democrat; and Christopher Van Hollen Jr., District 8 Democrat.

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