Rep. Donna Edwards Launches Campaign to Succeed Barbara Mikulski

Rep. Donna Edwards Launches Campaign to Succeed Barbara Mikulski

Rep. Donna Edwards (D-MD) formally initiated her campaign to succeed retiring Sen. Barbara Mikulski today.  In a two-minute video announcing her intentions, she gave a shout-out to NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center, close to her district and where she once worked as a contractor.

Mikulski revealed last week that she will not run for reelection in 2016.   Rep. Chris Van Hollen (D-MD) was the first sitting member of Congress to make clear that he will run for the seat.  Edwards is the second and it would not be surprising if others follow suit, along with many other Democrats and Republicans in state and local politics.

Edwards is probably the best known of the group to the space policy community, however.   She is the top Democrat on the Space Subcommittee of the House Science, Space and Technology Committee and a champion of the space program, if not always in agreement with the Obama Administration and NASA Administrator Charlie Bolden.  She has made clear, for example, that she does not endorse the Asteroid Redirect Mission and only slowly warmed up to the concept of commercial crew.  At a February 27, 2015 hearing focused on the commercial crew program, she said “As I have recounted on other occasions, I used to be a skeptic of commercial crew and cargo transportation to support NASA requirements.  And while I am now supportive of the commercial space transportation industry’s partnership with NASA, I remain committed to ensuring that these systems are safe.”

In today’s video explaining what she has done for Maryland already in the House and will do if elected to the Senate, she says “As the ranking Democrat on the space subcommittee, I passed a bipartisan investment in NASA for space programs that employ over 10,000 Marylanders and lift our sights just a little higher.”  The backdrop is video of the entrance to NASA Goddard Space Flight Center and text on the screen says “NASA GODDARD: 10,000 MARYLAND JOBS.”   She also notes her work in getting more Maryland schools focused on STEM education.  She was a strong critic of the Obama White House’s proposal in 2013 to reorganize federally funded STEM education programs and shift most NASA-related programs to other agencies.  Congress rejected the White House proposal.

Her official bio on her House website explains that she “has enjoyed a diverse career as a nonprofit public interest  advocate and in the private sector on NASA’s Spacelab project.”  In campaign material from her 2008 bid for the House, she said she had been a systems engineer for Lockheed Martin working at NASA.   She has an undergraduate degree from Wake Forest University and a J.D. from the University of New Hampshire School of Law.

She represents Maryland’s 4th district, which more or less surrounds Greenbelt, where Goddard is situated.  Greenbelt itself is in Rep. Steny Hoyer’s (D-MD) district.  He is the one member of the House (out of eight in Maryland’s delegation, seven of whom are Democrats) who has indicated he will NOT run for Mikulski’s seat.  He is the House Minority Whip, second only to House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi in the Democratic House leadership.


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