COLLEGE PARK – Theresa Dudley needs a break.
The political activist who ran unsuccessfully as a Green Party candidate against Rep. Albert Wynn, D-Mitchellville, in 2004 is going on hiatus from campaigning to spend more time with her family.
“Several people have called me and begged me to run,” Dudley said recently. “And I said, well — y’all going to come clean my house, y’all going to go to dinner with my husband?”
Time is just one of the constraints on challengers like Dudley, who often start the campaign hundreds of thousands of dollars behind the incumbents.
Wynn had $433,429 on hand as of June 30, according to his latest filing with the Federal Election Commission. Dudley raised just $5,344 for all of her campaign in 2004, while two Republicans who ran for Wynn’s seat last year, John McKinnis and Roscoe M. Moore Jr., reported debts of $30,000 and $50,000, respectively, to the FEC as of June 30.
“The potential challenger has no chance, unless he is (retiring Maryland Sen.) Paul Sarbanes,” said Ronald Walters, director of the African American Leadership Institute at the University of Maryland.
“Al Wynn has not only longevity, which gives him name recognition, a challenger would have to raise considerably more than $400,000 to dramatically raise his or her name recognition to a competitive level,” Walters said. “That is unlikely. So, I conclude that Al Wynn will win another term.”
Wynn could not be reached for comment. But Audra Miller, a spokeswoman for the Maryland Republican Party, acknowledged that, “Clearly, incumbency has its advantages.”
Despite all that, McKinnis said he is still considering a rematch against Wynn in 2006.
“On paper, it looks daunting,” McKinnis said, conceding that finances are “the obstacle of every challenger’s race.”
In addition to the $30,000 in debts from his last campaign, he reported to the FEC that he had $1,181 cash on hand in his campaign fund as of June 30.
But McKinnis said that finances cannot be “a determining factor,” and that principles, desire and vision are more important. He has not yet decided if he will run in 2006.
“I would expect to see him (McKinnis) run again,” Dudley said. “If he doesn’t run again it will be because his wife doesn’t let him.
“The difference between him and I is he’s got a wife, I’ve got husband,” she said.
Dudley said she will remain away from campaigning until her children are in college — her son is 9 and her daughter 13 — but not out of the political arena entirely. She was elected in July as president of the League of Women Voters for Prince George’s County.
“I’m not going anywhere, I’m just not running,” she said. “I’m looking forward to being a mom.”
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