Whistleblower files for Maryland senate race
On Jan. 11th, 2018, the Federal Election Commission received Chelsea Manning’s filing for senator of the state of Maryland. Manning, a former military analyst who was widely recognized for leaking over 700,000 classified government documents and videos, was released from prison in May 2017 after receiving a commuting of her original 35 year sentence by former President Barack Obama.
With the recent election of a billionaire businessman as president and talks of Oprah Winfrey’s possible decision to run in the next national election, the American people are becoming increasingly accustomed to unconventional candidates trying for office. Manning’s decision further cements this trend, as it would cement her as one a select few in the world to run for a branch of government as current or former whistleblower, or person involved in illicit activity.
“I think a lot more people are running for office in general, leading to more diverse candidates,” states Morgan Bliss, senior global student and president of Poolesville High School’s Gay-Straight Alliance. “However, it is difficult to say more on Chelsea Manning herself as she hasn’t released much by way of a platform or policy goals.”
Manning’s success would also serve as a stepping stone for the LGBTQ community, as her election would bring to the United States the first openly trans-person to serve in a Congressional House. While Manning would not the first openly transgender public official to serve in the United States (that being Joanne Conte, Arvada’s City Council from 1991-1995), she’d be adding her name to a small list of those who have served before her.
“Openly trans people being elected to the Senate would set a positive precedent for more trans people to be politically active,” comments Bliss. “I definitely think that more diverse people in politics would benefit the country as they represent more diverse goals and ideas that have been absent from mainstream politics.”
Manning challenges Democratic incumbent Ben Carbin, who was re-elected to the Senate by a 30 point margin, and is not expected to face a competitive primary challenger in the next race. It’s unknown how much political and financial support Manning currently poses.
AP Government teacher Jonathan Leong commented on these challenges, stating “Money is a big thing in politics. Though the LGBT community might definitely rally around her, we don’t know how much money she’s going to get or what she’s going to be known for. Currently, not many people know where she stands politically, as opposed to Cardin, a long-standing and electibly-reliable senator.”