From leaker to lawmaker: former Army private and convicted WikiLeaks document transmitter Chelsea Manning recently filed to run for the U.S. Senate in Maryland, mounting an unlikely challenge against Democrat Ben Cardin’s re-election for a third term in November.
So far, Manning has been reluctant to explain why she is running for Congress or what she hopes to achieve by doing so.
“Our only statement on the record is, ‘No statement,’” Manning, 30, told the Washington Post.
Chelsea Manning first entered the national spotlight as Bradley Manning, who was convicted in 2013 of the largest leak of classified documents in the country’s history. While behind bars, Manning successfully petitioned for the government to fund her transition from male to female.
Former President Barack Obama granted clemency to Manning last year after seven years in military prison, with the White House stating at the time that Manning had accepted responsibility for her actions and expressed remorse.
“I am looking forward to so much!” Manning said in a statement upon getting released. “Whatever is ahead of me is far more important than the past. I’m figuring things out right now – which is exciting, awkward, fun, and all new for me.”
Manning’s Senate bid poses an interesting conundrum for Cardin, who is seen as a shoe-in for re-election and has accumulated a large network of fundraisers throughout Maryland. Her filing could spark organizations from outside the state to get involved, hoping to transform the race into a platform for the progressive agenda to shine.
In a column for The Guardian, Manning suggested that Obama’s presidency was partially disappointing to her: “This vulnerable legacy should remind us that what we really need is a strong and unapologetic progressive to lead us. What we need as well is a relentless grassroots movement to hold that leadership accountable.”