Chelsea Manning, the infamous transgender leaker of classified U.S. government documents who was set to serve a 35-year sentence before it was commuted by former President Barack Obama has launched a U.S. Senate bid with the hopes of winning Maryland’s Democratic primary in June. She is challenging the Democratic incumbent, Sen. Ben Cardin. 

“The rise of authoritarianism is encroaching in every aspect of life, whether it’s government or corporate or technological,” Manning said. Her platform is unquestionably progressive in every sense, and just as doomed – it calls for closing prisons and freeing inmates; eliminating national boarders; restructuring the criminal justice system and providing universal health care and a basic income for all.


Many political observers, however, suspect Manning is not running to win, but instead wants to be a protest candidate. She also confirmed that if she loses the Democratic primary in June she would not run as an Independent in the general election.


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So far, however, Manning hasn’t developed a traditional campaign. She has had no major rallies and her appearances have been limited to a few small gatherings. Her website just recently went up. Manning has said that she is motivated by the desire to shake things up with the belief that establishment Democrats are “caving” in the face of President Donald Trump‘s administration.

Yet there are some who also see Manning’s Senate bid as just another vehicle for self-promotion. Dana Beyer, who leads the Gender Rights Maryland nonprofit, said that “it feels to me almost like it’s part of a book tour – that this is her moment.” Beyer herself is a transgender women and is running as a Democrat for a position in the state’s senate. “I don’t think this is a serious effort.”

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