WASHINGTON – Rep. Albert Wynn, after eking out a victory this week, said he’s learned a few things from his close primary contest.
“We got the message that some folks were not happy with our performance and we’re going to work very hard to improve,” said Wynn, who beat Donna Edwards — who’d never run for political office before — by just 2,725 votes when ballots were finally tabulated late Monday.
Wynn, a seven-term incumbent, said he plans to hold town hall meetings to get more feedback should he win November’s general election.
“We’re going to do some new things, bringing out some new initiatives in the community.”
Until now, Wynn had never received less than 75 percent of the vote.
Edwards said she hopes Wynn got the message voters were sending.
“I trust that Mr. Wynn will be challenged to listen to the voices that spoke so strongly at the polls on Election Day as he serves this next term in Congress,” she said in a statement released Sunday.
Wynn will face Moshe Michael Starkman, the Republican nominee who ran unopposed, in the November election. Like Edwards, Starkman, a senior manager for Intersoft Corporation who lives in Rockville, has never run for public office.
Wynn’s campaign will definitely take Starkman seriously, but, the congressman said, “I think this is a good year for Democrats.”
The closeness of the primary election must have been an eye-opener for Wynn, a political analyst said.
“It’s possible that because he had a challenge he’ll maybe be more attentive to his constituency,” said James G. Gimpel, government and politics professor at the University of Maryland, College Park. “It’s also possible that he’ll decide to retire.”
The scare “might make him work just a little harder unless he decides to hang it up,” Gimpel said.
The strength of Edwards’ campaign surprised many and provided Wynn with the first real political opposition in his congressional career.
“Donna Edwards was a terrific candidate, and I would hope that she would stay involved in Maryland Democratic politics in any number of different ways,” said Terry Lierman, chairman of the Maryland Democratic Party.
Edwards declined to comment on whether she’d run again in 2008.
That doesn’t mean that other potential challengers aren’t waiting for their shot at the congressional seat.
“What it may well do is invite other challengers next time to see if they can’t pull together the kind of support to vote him out of office,” Gimpel said.
The election took nearly two weeks to decide because voting problems plagued both counties. Some Montgomery County voters had to cast provisional ballots when voting cards weren’t delivered on time.
In Prince George’s County, some voting machines weren’t delivered to the Board of Elections immediately.
In both counties electronic voting books, computers that catalog voter information, crashed periodically.
Results from Prince George’s County were certified late Friday; Montgomery County, on Monday.
In her statement, Edwards urged the State Board of Elections to pursue an investigation of “the multiple layers of administrative and technical failures,” although she stopped short of filing a threatened lawsuit over the glitches.
The failures highlighted the state in a bad way, and it needs to recover, she said.
“Maryland is now a lens through which others are looking at the conduct of elections — we need to get it right.”