Chelsea Manning, the transgender Maryland woman convicted of sharing thousands of military documents with Wikileaks, has filed her candidacy to challenge Sen. Benjamin L. Cardin in this year’s election.
Manning declared her intentions Jan. 5 with the Federal Election Commission, which posted the document on its website Thursday. She is running as a Democrat.
Manning, a 30-year-old Oklahoma native, had previously lived in Montgomery County before enlisting in the Army and eventually facing a court-martial for leaking classified and sensitive information. She moved back to Maryland last year after President Obama commuted her 35-year sentence in the final days of his administration.
She is at least the fourth candidate lined up to unseat Cardin, according to state election records, but by far the most well known. Previously known as Bradley Manning, she has been held up as a heroic whistle-blower and denounced as a traitor for revealing information about military operations in Iraq and Afghanistan and about detainees at the U.S. military prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.
Cardin, who served 20-year tenures in the Maryland House of Delegates and the U.S. House of Representatives before succeeding retiring U.S. Sen. Paul Sarbanes in 2007, is not considered particularly vulnerable to challenge.
He had an approval rating of 50% as recently as October, according to Morning Consult. That was around the middle of the pack for all senators and 2 percentage points higher than that of Maryland Sen. Chris Van Hollen, a Democrat who won the race to replace former Sen. Barbara Mikulski in 2016.
Cardin’s campaign had about $2 million on hand as of Sept. 30, according to federal campaign finance records.
Representatives for Cardin did not immediately return calls for comment Saturday.
Conservative news outlet Red Maryland first reported Manning’s candidacy.
Federal election documents list Manning’s campaign committee address as an apartment tower in North Bethesda. They do not show any campaign finance reports for Manning’s campaign.
Manning could not immediately be reached for comment.
The day after Manning filed her candidacy, the television network Showtime announced that later this year it would air a documentary called “XY Chelsea” that follows her release from prison. Among the documentary’s executive producers is Laura Poitras, who produced “Citizenfour,” a documentary about another famous leaker, Edward Snowden.
Manning has not discussed her Senate campaign on Twitter, but has recently weighed in on political issues there. On Tuesday, which was National Law Enforcement Appreciation Day, she stirred controversy when she tweeted “... the police,” and then, “police kill hundreds of people every year with absolute impunity.”
When U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents raided 7-Eleven stores around the country on Wednesday, she tweeted, “so @icegov is literally the new gestapo.”
She has written about transgender rights and bullying in columns published on the website Medium. Last year, she wrote a column for the Guardian opposing compromise in politics.
“We need to stop asking them to give us our rights,” she wrote. “We need to actually take the reins of government and fix our institutions.”
When another Twitter user criticized Manning’s diatribe on police last week and said “have fun never voting again,” she responded that she was registered to vote despite her criminal record: “state of maryland doesnt disenfranchise.”
Maryland’s primary election will be held June 26. The general election is Nov. 6.
Dance writes for the Baltimore Sun.