WASHINGTON – Rep. Donna Edwards, D-Fort Washington, could become the most senior freshman member of Congress if she is re-elected in Maryland’s 4th District, but she has to beat her challengers — again.
Republican Peter James of Germantown and Libertarian Thibeaux Lincecum of College Park are vying for Edwards’ seat for the second time.
Edwards defeated James and Lincecum with more than 80 percent of the vote in June’s special election, called after Democrat Rep. Albert Wynn lost to Edwards in the primary and resigned.
While Edwards is favored to win again Nov. 4, she said she doesn’t take any election for granted.
“It’s always important when you hold elected office to continue to reach out to people, to listen to their concerns and to let them know why I am interested in representing them in Congress and for them to know that they have a choice,” she said.
Her opponents don’t expect to win. They said they just want to get their messages out.
“I certainly don’t expect to get a lot of votes,” Lincecum said. “We don’t have a lot of money for advertising because there are not a lot of Libertarians in Maryland.”
“I wanted to use just the bloody pulpit of running for office to get the word out so people will know (about the unjust money system),” James said.
The economy has become a central issue in this election, and the 4th District candidates differ on solutions.
Edwards opposed the original $700 billion Wall Street bailout, after the Congressional Black Caucus said it failed to include help for struggling homeowners. Edwards, along with most other caucus members, changed her vote to pass the revised bill after assurances from Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama that such help would be forthcoming in his prospective presidency.
Edwards said she wants to assure economic reforms include regulation and oversight.
“I think we have to create a stimulus in the economy more immediately to create jobs and opportunity so that people have a paycheck to spend in the economy,” she said.
James, 53, whose family owns a software company, said the bailout is creating more debt, and few people on Capitol Hill understand how the money system works.
“If we could issue the money that the government needs to run on directly from the Treasury, we would produce zero public debt,” he said. “Right now, we’re borrowing that money from the banks … and then they just charge us interest.”
James has been active in creating a local currency and a charity bank.
Lincecum, a 37-year-old information technology consultant, said it will take a lot of time to resolve the economic problems facing the country.
“It’s going to require tightening our belts,” he said. “Many people will not be able to maintain the same lifestyles they have in the past. We have to live within in our means and not borrow so much money, so it will involve spending less and paying off our debts.”
Despite differing views on the economy, the candidates all agree the U.S. should withdraw troops in Iraq.
The country should focus more on the situation in Afghanistan, Edwards said. She also said Iraq needs a political solution for the problems it faces and the Iraqis should be at the center of the solution, not the United States.
“Our job is to engage diplomatically with our neighbors and allies in the world to create a safer place in the Gulf region and throughout the Middle East,” Edwards said.
James said he wants to cut back on U.S. military presence throughout the world, reducing its bases by 90 percent.
“We’re supposed to provide for the national defense and not become the next Roman Empire,” he said.
But Lincecum said he believes that’s not enough, saying the United States shouldn’t have armies in any country and instead find other ways to influence countries without military force.
“The best influence is just to have open trade with other nations, and that way we all become interdependent with each other, we become partners and we want each other to thrive,” Lincecum said.
Edwards’s incumbency has had financial benefits. At the end of the third quarter, Edwards had $47,424 cash on hand to James’ $464.
“The only people that would give me money are people that can’t afford to give me money,” James said. “The people that might want to give money, I’m probably against their interests.”
Lincecum did not raise any money for his campaign.
“I don’t think a couple thousand dollars is going to make a difference,” he said. “If I thought I could get a hundred thousand dollars, then I’d make an effort.”
The challengers still hope their messages will reach some voters.
James put his own spin on one of his favorite quotes from Martin Luther King Jr., who he noted was also a Republican.
“I just hope people can look at me in terms of the content of my character,” he said, “and not the color of party, whether it’s red or blue.”