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Manning to run for US Senate seat in Maryland

by Lisa Keen

Add Chelsea Manning to the list of trans candidates seeking office this year.

The convicted WikiLeaks whistleblower pulled papers last week to run for the U.S. Senate in Maryland and confirmed in a tweet that she is a candidate.

She seeks to replace a Democratic senator for Maryland who has a solid pro-LGBT voting record.

Manning, whose primary claim to fame is her conviction for leaking classified government documents to WikiLeaks, is now one of three Democratic candidates seeking to unseat incumbent Senator Benjamin Cardin. Cardin has scored a perfect 100 percent on the Human Rights Campaign's Congressional Scorecard concerning LGBT-related votes.

A campaign video available on Manning's Twitter account opens with footage from the rioting in Charlottesville, Virginia, last summer and Manning's voiceover saying, "We live in trying times. Times of fear, of suppression, hate. We don't need more or better leaders. We need someone willing to fight. We need to stop asking them to give us our rights. They won't support us, won't compromise. We need to stop expecting that our systems will somehow fix themselves. We need to actually take the reins of power from them. We need to challenge them at every level. We need to fix this. We don't need them anymore. We can do better. You're damn right, we got this." The closing frame says "Chelsea Manning for U.S. Senate. #Wegotthis."

While much of the mainstream media took notice of Manning's announcement, so did people who clearly don't like her. One Twitter post, for instance, called her a "treasonous, cop hating" person who "has proven to be a threat to our national security."

Manning, 30, first came to widespread public attention in 2010 when, as a U.S. Army private she worked in intelligence analysis and was arrested for leaking hundreds of thousands of government documents - some classified and considered highly sensitive - to WikiLeaks. WikiLeaks is an organization that puts documents of high interest on its publicly accessible website. Manning pleaded guilty, then revealed that she would transition to female and begin going by the name of Chelsea.

Manning was sentenced to military prison. In a statement seeking clemency, she said she "did not intend to harm the interests of the United States or harm any service members."

Just before leaving office, President Barack Obama commuted Manning's 35-year sentence, allowing for her release in May 2017. According to the Baltimore Sun, Manning is a native of Oklahoma who lived in Montgomery County, Maryland, for many years. She came back to Maryland after she was released from Fort Leavenworth prison last year.

Harvard University invited Manning to be a visiting fellow last year, but a vigorous backlash ensued, and the school rescinded its offer.

Neither Manning nor the other two Democratic challengers have reported any funds in their campaign coffers, according to the Federal Elections Commission. Incumbent Cardin has $1.7 million. His Republican challenger has $125,000. Candidates for Senate typically spend about $1.5 million, according to the Washington Post. Winning a seat requires much more, about $10 million, according to

The Sun reported Cardin has a 50 percent approval rating among voters. It also noted that another transgender candidate in Maryland, Kristin Beck, a former Navy SEAL, garnered only 12 percent of the vote in her 2016 race against incumbent Congressman Steny Hoyer (D), who serves as minority whip. Beck told the Sun she considers Manning's Senate bid a "publicity stunt.", a statistical site that focuses on elections and is led by gay analyst Nate Silver, puts Cardin's likelihood of being re-elected at 95 percent.

Manning did not return an email message seeking comment. HRC also did not respond to a request for comment.


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