Maryland’s open congressional seat could see overcrowded Democratic primary
Hours after Rep. Anthony Brown (D-MD) announced his candidacy for Maryland’s attorney general, attention turns to the candidates – two of whom have already filed the documents – vying to replace him in the 4th congressional district of the state.
Glenn Ivey is a former Prince George County state attorney who ran for the seat in 2016 and lost to Brown in the Democratic primary.
Jazz Lewis is a member of the Maryland House of Delegates and senior adviser to House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-MD), whose congressional district sits next to Brown’s. Lewis, who filed with the Federal Election Commission yesterday, is expected to announce his candidacy today.
Another alleged candidate is Donna Edwards, who represented the district before Brown but left to mount an unsuccessful Senate campaign in 2016. She is now a columnist for The Washington Post and an analyst on MSNBC and NBC News.
Brown said The Washington Post yesterday it was too early for him to approve a successor, but said he expects voters to have a “great choice” of candidates.
The black-majority 4th congressional district is the most democratic in the state, encompassing parts of Prince George County and Anne Arundel County.
The district has a small Jewish community compared to neighboring districts which encompass Montgomery County and Baltimore. But issues related to Israel and Middle East politics have played a role in Ivey and Edwards’ political careers, and could become flashpoints in the 2022 campaign.
Edwards was criticized by members of Maryland’s Jewish community during his Senate race in 2016 for his views on Israel, including a “current” vote on a near-unanimous 2009 House resolution affirming Israel’s right to defend against Hamas. She was elected to Congress in 2008 after beating an outgoing Democrat in a primary, targeting him in part for his support for the Iraq war.
âWhen she was in Congress, she was pretty much a lonely voiceâ on Israel, said Rabbi Stuart Weinblatt, rabbi of the conservative B’nai Tzedek congregation in Potomac. âNow there is an ‘S’, there are others who share his attitude towards Israel. This should be all the more of a concern to the pro-Israel community. “
âI am a strong supporter of Israel and fully support America’s commitment to Israel’s security. I have traveled through Israel and have seen its promise and the threats to its existence, âsaid Edwards. The Washington Post in 2015. JI was unable to reach Edwards for comment on Monday evening.
Jeremy Ben-Ami, president of J Street, praised Edwards at the time. âShe has been a real serious leader in efforts in Congress to advance the pro-Israel and pro-peace agenda,â he said.
In a 2019 tweet, Edwards cited a Huffington Post article that said: “[O]he congressman opposed the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, âwhich Edwards calledâ my friend, âRep. Betty McCollum (D-MN).
Israel emerged when Ivey briefly attempted to challenge Edwards in a 2012 primary. A fundraiser organized for Ivey by Barbara Goldberg Goldman, a Montgomery County Jewish community activist who is now vice-chair of the council of administration of the Jewish Democratic Council of America and deputy treasurer of the Maryland Democratic Party, pitted Ivey and Edwards on Israel.
“Glenn [Ivey] has made it clear that he steadfastly supports the State of Israel as his opponent’s vote count, public positions and comments on issues related to Israel have been of major concern to the Jewish community, âsaid an invitation to the event. But Ivey left the race ahead of the election, citing an inability to raise sufficient funds. (Affected last night, Goldberg Goldman declined to comment on potential candidates in the race due to his role in the state’s Democratic Party.)
âGlenn has a very good relationship with the Jewish community,â said Susan Turnbull, who was the Democratic candidate for lieutenant governor in the 2018 Maryland gubernatorial race.
Weinblatt, who is a member of AIPAC’s national executive board, said Ivey is “someone who has reached out and has a very good relationship with the pro-Israel community.”
Lewis “is really in the Steny Hoyer mold: super bright, hardworking, very connected to local voters,” said Daniel Silverberg, who served as Hoyer’s national security adviser until the start of the year and worked in close collaboration with Lewis. “When it comes to Israel’s issues, he really fits Hoyer’s mold – a staunch supporter of the relationship [between the U.S. and Israel] and someone who I think aspires to strengthen the Hoyer legacy in this regard.
Lewis and Ivey did not respond to requests for comment.