It’s Not All Smiles Behind the Scenes
It’s poorly kept secret that Rep. Donna Edwards does not have particularly good relationships with much of the Maryland political establishment either in the State or in the House. But the National Journal recently also revealed the depth of her bad relationships with many other members of the Congressional Black Caucus (CBC):
Some current and former CBC members and aides, none of whom were willing to speak on the record, described Edwards as ambitious and aloof, saying she’s rubbed many in the caucus the wrong way. Others noted her public stances in opposition to other Maryland Democrats—an outlier in an otherwise collegial delegation.
One former staffer said that she essentially dropped out of the CBC for six months after a conflict with a colleague:
“I don’t think the CBC’s been a real priority for Donna. I don’t think she has particularly great relationships inside of the caucus,” said a former staffer for a CBC member. “I don’t think she’s going to win any popularity contests inside the CBC.”
In one particularly explosive episode, Edwards walked out of a CBC meeting last year after a dispute with Rep. Cedric Richmond. “He told her to get out, and she didn’t come back for six months,” said another former aide with CBC ties. “She didn’t come back until a month before she announced her candidacy for Senate. It struck a very disingenuous tone.”
Rep. Elijah Cummings could be the major beneficiary of Edwards’ problems with other members of the CBC:
Some CBC members were open in their desire to see Cummings enter the race. “I can only speak to the positive nature of the desire to get Elijah Cummings to run,” said Rep. Emanuel Cleaver. “There is a lot of interest in his candidacy from CBC members. … I would be stunned if the majority of the members aren’t supporting him.”
That preference could say as much about Edwards’ standing within the CBC as it does about Cummings’.
Even if Rep. Donna Edwards is the only African-American candidate, many CBC members might still sit this one out. Or even worse for her, they might support Rep. Chris Van Hollen:
“Donna Edwards has always been an outsider to the caucus,” said the former staffer with CBC ties. “The CBC overwhelmingly doesn’t think that Donna Edwards has managed her relationships well or even developed one. … I have heard members say that they will go and campaign for Van Hollen before they will support Donna Edwards.”