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Maryland - 4th District

Incumbent -- Donna Edwards (D) ; Running for re-election

Safe Democratic
Race Ratings Key
 

Updated May 25, 2010

Edwards, a longtime liberal activist and former executive director of a non-profit group, wrote her ticket to a seat in Congress in the district's February 2008 primary, when she defeated veteran Democratic Rep. Albert R. Wynn in a rematch of their close 2006 primary contest. But Edwards did not even have to wait until that November's general election to officially claim the 4th District seat: Wynn resigned his seat that May, and Edwards won a special election that June to complete his unexpired term.

Edwards will never have a problem from a Republican challenger in this suburban Washington, D.C., district. An African-American Democrat who strongly supports President Barack Obama, she represents a black-majority Democratic stronghold that gave Obama 85 percent of its votes for president in 2008.

But Edwards now has a tougher-than-average primary on her hands. State Del. Herman Taylor (D) is hoping to capitalize on some pro-Israeli groups' disenchantment with Edwards -- and the fact that he's from the Montgomery County portion of the district, where turnout is generally higher (Edwards is from Prince George's County).

But Taylor wasn't exactly a legislative superstar during his eight years in Annapolis; Edwards should win handily in a race that nevertheless bears some watching.

 

District Information

District Profile from Politics in America

The first suburban district in the nation with a black majority, the 4th includes Washington's eastern suburbs in Prince George's County and a sizable swath of northern Montgomery County. Democrats have a strong hold on the district's largely middle-class, black population.

The 4th's economy is built on small business and the spillover of technology companies from Montgomery County and the Northern Virginia suburbs. With a mostly white-collar workforce, the district includes major Prince George's County aerospace engineering, biotech and nanotech employers. The 4th's technology industries are bolstered by the University of Maryland and NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center (both nearby in the 5th).

Prince George's County is a national leader in black business formation, homeownership and education, but foreclosure rates in the county have remained high. Many county residents are federal employees who have moved out of Washington -- more than 15 percent of the workforce here is employed by the federal government. Although some of Prince George's County's low-income areas inside the Capital Beltway, which surrounds Washington, share the capital's problems of drug trafficking and violent crime, public safety in the county has improved.

Nearly 40 percent of the district's residents live in outer suburbs and exurbs found in Montgomery County, such as Burtonsville, Olney and Sandy Spring. The 4th's solid Democratic tendencies led voters to give Barack Obama 85 percent of the 2008 presidential vote there, his highest percentage in the state.

Major Industry

Retail, computers, technology, recreation

Military Bases

Andrews Air Force Base, 6,888 military, 1,079 civilian (2011); Adelphi Army Research Laboratory, 30 military, 1,912 civilian (2008)

Cities

Silver Spring (unincorporated) (pt.), 47,487; Germantown (unincorporated) (pt.), 43,009; Olney (unincorporated), 33,844

Notable

Air Force One is kept at Andrews Air Force Base.

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