Former U.S. army private Chelsea Manning has filed to run for the U.S. Senate in Maryland, according to federal election filings. The news of Manning’s filing was first reported in a tweet by Red Maryland, a conservative media outlet. She is running as a Democrat.
Manning’s candidacy is a challenge to Maryland’s senior senator, Democrat Benjamin Cardin. Cardin, who is currently serving a second term, is considered an overwhelming favorite to win a third. Cardin has an extensive fundraising base within Maryland and is the ranking Democrat on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.
However, the national name recognition of Manning could cause him some issues. Cardin’s spokeswoman and the Democratic Party of Maryland declined to comment on Manning’s filing. Cardin’s spokeswoman says the Senator is “looking forward to a vigorous debate of the issues and a robust conversation with Maryland voters.” The Democratic primary is scheduled for the end of June.
Manning’s high-profile leak drew media coverage around the world. At the time, it was the largest government leak in U.S. history. After the news broke, Manning claimed the material was released because she had a duty to inform the public about how the U.S. was conducting its wars. U.S. officials claimed the leak placed the lives of Afghan informants and U.S. soldiers at risk
Three years after the leak, Manning was sentenced to 35 years in prison for multiple crimes, including violating the Espionage Act. During her incarceration at Fort Leavenworth, she requested gender-reassignment surgery and was originally denied. She attempted suicide and went on a hunger strike until the military granted her request.
Outgoing president Barack Obama commuted her sentence to time served in 2015. Manning moved to Maryland after her release from prison. Since her release, Manning has written for The Guardian and Medium on a number of issues, including transgender rights, free speech, and civil liberties. Manning recently posted a campaign video on Twitter emphasizing her history of challenging systemic norms.
Manning has been praised as a hero by some progressives but has been labeled as a traitor by many, including President Donald Trump. According to the Constitution, Manning’s felony convictions do not bar her from running for Senate.