Former U.S. Army private Chelsea Manning officially confirmed a run for Senate in Maryland on Sunday, while also releasing the first official ad of the new campaign.
Manning — a convicted criminal found guilty of sharing classified government documents with WikiLeaks — got out of prison in 2017 after then-President Barack Obama commuted what was supposed to be a 35-year prison sentence, according to The Hill.
The 30-year-old soldier-turned-activist was born a male with the given name “Bradley,” but now identifies as a female.
Manning filed to run for Senate last week, then made a statement regarding the candidacy via Twitter.
“(Y)up, we’re running for senate,” Manning tweeted Sunday, along with a YouTube video of the campaign ad.
The video seems to emphasize an anti-establishment theme, with Manning specifically indicating the need for someone who will “fix” the system.
“We live in trying times. Times of fear, of suppression, hate,” Manning can be heard saying as images of the August 2017 white supremacist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, flash across the screen.
“We don’t need more or better leaders, we need someone willing to fight,” Manning says.
Various pictures of congressional lawmakers then appear, including one image of a meeting between Democrats and President Donald Trump.
“We need to stop expecting that our systems will somehow fix themselves, we need to actually take the reins of power from them,” Manning adds.
“We need to challenge this at every level. We need to fix this. We don’t need them anymore, we can do better.”
Manning concludes the ad by saying, “You’re d— right we got this” — a reference to the “#WeGotThis” hashtag the former Army private often uses on social media.
Manning filed to run as a Democrat, and is expected to challenge incumbent and fellow Democrat Sen. Bob Cardin — who is up for re-election in November — in the upcoming primary.
Following Manning’s arrest in 2010 for leaking classified documents, the former soldier came out as transgender and became an LGBT activist.
Not long after being released from prison, Manning registered to vote in North Bethesda, Maryland.
According to Fox News, Manning’s criminal record does not mean the whistleblower can’t run for Senate, though Manning must first file in person with the state’s board of elections by Feb. 27, which he has yet to do.
Manning’s chances of winning are believed to be slim, especially considering Cardin already has $2 million in cash without officially having filed for re-election.
At least one expert has even suggested that Manning’s run is nothing more than a publicity stunt.
“This is not a run to win. This is a run for statement purposes,” Democrat strategist Lou DiNatale told the Boston Herald. “It’s unlikely she’ll win a Democratic primary. … It’s a sign of the times. It’s another version of a celebrity candidacy.”
Political science professor Stephen Farnsworth — who teaches at the University of Mary Washington in Fredericksburg, Virginia — said it would be difficult for Manning to defeat Cardin.
“It is extremely unlikely he would lose a primary to Chelsea Manning given her controversial past,” Farnsworth said. “Manning might be more successful if she ran for a lower office first, perhaps in a state legislature.”
If elected, Manning would become the first openly transgender person to serve in Congress.
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