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Without the support of EMILY’s List, said Edwards, “I think it would have been very difficult. We just don’t have the same access to resources and networks that our male counterparts do.”****Ambitious candidates who aren’t white men have long been counseled to tread carefully around, even avoid, the subject of race and gender.

Hillary Clinton’s advisors notoriously warned her in 2008 not to make too much of running to be the first female president.

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But in a panel discussion last year, she remarked, “Somebody once asked me which is worse,” meaning her race or gender as a politician.

“My response to that is, if someone has their foot on your neck, it doesn’t really matter why it’s there.”Progress does not necessarily move in a straight line, nor does it move quickly.

Donna Edwards couldn't hide the fact that she is a black woman running for office even if she wanted to. Senate is a different kind of life experience and that would inform how I feel about public policy.”Line up the portraits of all the senators ever elected, nearly two thousand of them, and you would see a sea of white male faces.

Standing before a group of mostly black women at a senior center enjoying lunch recently, it's clear she doesn't. Towards the end of the procession, you would see 46 women, but only one black woman, Democrat Carol Moseley Braun of Illinois, and she finished her only term almost two decades ago.

Under election rules, candidates get more favorable ad rates than outside groups supporting them, so Van Hollen’s campaign funds go further in ad spending than Edwards’ support from EMILY’s List’s PAC, Women Vote.

That group has spent a total of .9 million on Edwards, including a 0,000 ad spend for the final stretch announced Thursday that would bring Edwards to parity with Van Hollen in key markets.“That’s not Donna’s problem.”Some NOW members protested, with the Montgomery County chapter co-presidents, Van Hollen supporters who had asked the group to stay neutral, publicly registering their disappointment.RELATED: Can Cleveland Police Handle Volatile Republican Convention?It’s clear that EMILY’s List’s donor network is excited about Edwards, too: Of all the candidates for which EMILY’s List has bundled donations from its network, only Hillary Clinton has brought in more support.The Van Hollen campaign and EMILY’s List have openly feuded, culminating in the group filing a Federal Election Commission complaint accusing Van Hollen’s campaign of breaking campaign finance rules.Many of the women who do serve hail, like Edwards, from majority-minority districts and find themselves pigeonholed out of running statewide.

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