It was probably only a matter of time before one of the very most politically relevant– and therefore most controversial – individuals of our day would run for a seat in Congress.
Chelsea Manning made history when in 2010, as a U.S. Army intelligence analyst in Iraq, she accessed 750,000 Department of Defense documents, and leaked them to journalists at the WikiLeaks organization.
The leak was the largest of its kind, eclipsing even the Pentagon Papers leak by Daniel Ellsberg to the New York Times in 1971, which revealed the Vietnam War had secretly expanded greatly in scope.
It gave Americans and the world a richly detailed, comprehensive understanding of what the U.S. government was really up to in the Middle East, and almost certainly had a deterrent effect on nefarious activities by government employees by demonstrating how easily government secrets could become public knowledge.
Manning served nearly seven years in prison for the disclosures in conditions the United Nations formally denounced as inhumane, before having her sentence commuted by Barack Obama during his final days in office.
On January 11, Chelsea Manning (aged 30) filed to run for U.S. Senate in Maryland against a long-time establishment Democrat, incumbent Senator Ben Cardin (aged 74). She'll have to file for the Democratic Primary by February 27th.
She has already faced stiff criticism from establishment Democrats, including a bizarre conspiracy theory that she's being funded by the Kremlin to oppose Cardin.
Manning's international reputation has attracted a lot of attention to the race already in the Democratic-leaning state of Maryland.
Should the opposition from the Democratic Party establishment become too hostile, another way forward for Chelsea would be to run as an independent candidate. These would be the requirements:
"Independent candidates file paperwork in two phases. First, a candidate must submit a declaration of intent to the Maryland State Board of Elections. This form must be filed no later than the first Monday in July.
By 5 p.m. on the first Monday in August of the election year, the candidate must submit a certificate of candidacy to the Maryland State Board of Elections and a financial disclosure form to the Maryland State Ethics Commission. The candidate must also submit to the Maryland State Board of Elections a petition signed by either 10,000 registered voters, or 1 percent of the total number of voters who are eligible to vote for the office being sought by the candidate, whichever is less."
Independents make up Maryland's fastest growing voting bloc, and there were already 754,969 independent voters in Maryland in 2016. With the support of liberal Democrats and independent voters in Maryland, it's quite possible that Manning could make history again as the youngest woman ever elected to the U.S. Senate.