Chelsea Manning confirmed via Twitter on Sunday that she is launching a bid to become a Democratic Party senator representing Maryland. “Yup, we’re running for senate,” she tweeted with a campaign video attached. The confirmation came merely three days after Manning seemed to catch everyone off guard by filing the necessary paperwork to join the 2018 Maryland Democratic primary.
Manning also sent out a separate tweet Sunday calling on supporters to donate to her campaign in a race that will see her facing off against Ben Cardin, the senior senator for Maryland who has held the seat since 2007 and is the top Democrat on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.
Manning, the former U.S. Army private who was imprisoned for sharing documents with WikiLeaks, is actually an Oklahoma native but has been registered to vote in North Bethesda since mid-August. The 30-year-old who was previously known as Bradley Manning was sentenced to 35 years behind bars in 2013 after she was found guilty of 20 charges, including espionage. Former President Barack Obama commuted her sentence shortly before leaving office.
Manning’s campaign video shows scenes of protests and police actions: “We live in trying times. Times of fear, of suppression, of hate. We don’t need more or better leaders. We need someone willing to fight.” The video then seems to criticize current Democratic leadership by showing minority leader Chuck Schumer meeting with Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell and President Donald Trump. “We need to stop asking them to give us our rights,” the video’s voiceover says. “They won’t support us. They won’t compromise. We need to stop expecting that our systems will somehow fix themselves.”
President Donald Trump has been harshly critical of Manning, calling her an “ungrateful TRAITOR” in a January 2017 tweet. In September, Manning pushed back against claims that she’s a traitor, telling a conference in Massachusetts that she did what she thought was right. “I believe I did the best I could in my circumstances to make an ethical decision,” she said.