MARYLAND — Chelsea Manning, the former U.S. soldier who was imprisoned for handing over classified documents to Wikileaks, is hoping to represent the State of Maryland in the U.S. Senate.
Manning filed her statement of candidacy with the Federal Election Commission Thursday, listing herself as a Democrat. She would be challenging two-term incumbent Sen. Ben Cardin (D) in the primary.
The former Army intelligence analyst was convicted of violating the Espionage Act in a 2013 court martial, after it was proven Manning had leaked over 700,000 Military and State Dep’t documents, ranging from classified to top secret. Pentagon officials condemned Manning’s actions, saying the leaks indirectly provided vital intel assets to Islamic extremists, and put American lives in danger.
Sentenced to 35 years imprisonment, former president Barack Obama pardoned Manning shortly after the soldier publicly came out as transgender. Obama’s decision to commute Manning’s sentence to about seven years drew strong criticism from members of Congress, with Republican House Speaker Paul Ryan calling the move “just outrageous.”
In a bitter irony, Sen. Cardin’s efforts to expand the rights of felons may lead to his losing the primary to one. In many States, Manning would be unable to vote or run for elected office after being convicted of a felony, but Maryland passed a law last year that allows felons to participate in elections. During his career in the Senate, Cardin has fervently advocated restoring voting rights to felons.
The primary will be held on June 26, 2018, ahead of the Nov. 6 general election that Democrats are eying as a chance to retake Congress and fight President Trump’s policies.