Rep. Edwards was featured in a Washington Post article by Krissah Thompson on September 30.
Rep. Donna F. Edwards is stooped in a corner fiddling with the sound system. Her event, guest-starring House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, is about to start. There is barely room to move in the small Hyattsville bakery, and side conversations are bouncing off the walls.
On a Women Succeed, America Succeeds bus tour stop, Edwards joins Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi and Reps. Rosa L. DeLauro (D-Conn.) and Joyce Beatty (D-Ohio) in listening to a female business owner discuss the difficulties of keeping her business afloat. (Melina Mara/The Washington Post)
A microphone would be helpful when the speeches begin, and Edwards, who likes to fix stuff, is not above squatting in a fuchsia frock to try to get the job done.
Almost as soon as she unseated an incumbent congressman in a Democratic primary in 2008, Edwards became all about pushing out the Democratic Party’s message. A broken mike won’t stop her. “Good morning!” she says, before turning to what has become her mantra for the midterm elections.
“We know that when women succeed, America succeeds,” she shouts, joined in unison by Pelosi.
The two Democrats are pushing a theme that they hope will draw voters, especially women, to the polls in November. The slogan sounds a little cheesy, when belted in their sing-songy way. Edwards’s and Pelosi’s manner of speaking is more deliberative and wonky than traditionally charismatic, but their duet goes over well with the enthusiastic gaggle of supporters crowding the bakery – small-business owners, students and more than a few congressional staffers.
Edwards is in her home district, which covers much of Prince George’s County and a slice of Anne Arundel, and she speaks first. She says she wants more women to run and more women to lead. She tells her story: how she raised her son as a single mother while working and, later, won a long-shot congressional race. Edwards wants more women to do what she has done, to reinvent themselves and take a chance on politics.
But six years into her time on Capitol Hill, the chatter has turned to what’s next for Edwards. Like a good student, she raised her hand quickly to volunteer for committee work and, this year, took charge of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee’s efforts to recruit candidates, after serving as co-chair of the effort in 2012. She has become a pretty regular fixture on cable news and the still-coveted (at least in Washington) Sunday-morning political talk shows.
She spent this summer walking in Pelosi’s footsteps. The two women were central figures on a national bus tour, which Edwards helped to organize, that was intended to focus Democrats on issues of importance to women. It also gave Edwards plenty of face time with Pelosi. At a moment when their party has a glut of young, ambitious members vying for relatively few open spots in leadership, it doesn’t hurt to be friendly with the woman-in-charge.
And Edwards seems to have made a good impression.
Pelosi piles on the platitudes: “She is an exceptional leader in every way – I take pride that she is from my home state of Maryland – I have frankly never heard anyone say anything negative about her achievements and approach.”
Standing shoulder to shoulder at the Hyattsville bakery, they confidently connect with the crowd.
So, when Pelosi, 74, leaves the national stage – and don’t expect this anytime soon – will Edwards, 56, be the person left in the spotlight?
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