The whistleblower who gave sensitive government documents to WikiLeaks, then changed his name to Chelsea Manning and said he was transgender, has filed to run for the U.S. Senate in Maryland as a Democrat.
Federal election filings show that Manning, 30, born a male and given the name Bradley Manning, will be running for the Senate against Democrat Ben Cardin, the two-term senior senator who is considered an overwhelming favorite to win his third term, reports The Washington Post.
Manning was a former Army private who was convicted of giving information to Wikileaks in 2013, in the largest leak of classified documents in U.S. history. Initially sentenced to 35 years in prison, Manning’s sentence was commuted by former President Barack Husein Obama to time served.
Manning filed a statement of candidacy with the Federal Elections Commission on Thursday. The Post reports:
The news of Manning’s filing caught Maryland’s political class by surprise on Saturday afternoon.
Cardin, the ranking Democrat on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, has an extensive fundraising base within Maryland and is not considered particularly vulnerable to a challenge from within the state. However, an outside candidate with national name recognition, such as Manning, could tap a network of donors interested in elevating a progressive agenda.
Manning moved to Maryland after her release and friends and family raised more than $175,000 to support her through an online campaign. Since then, she has written for The Guardian and Medium on issues of transparency, free speech and civil liberties, according to her web site.
According to an article Manning wrote for the Guardian, Obama left behind “hints of a progressive legacy,” but few permanent accomplisments.
“This vulnerable legacy should remind us that what we really need is a strong and unapologetic progressive to lead us,” Manning wrote. “What we need as well is a relentless grassroots movement to hold that leadership accountable.”
Manning is considered by some to be a hero, while others, such as President Donald J. Trump, would alternatively name Manning a traitor.