A transgender former Army intelligence officer who rose to national prominence after leaking sensitive information to Wikileaks has taken steps to run for U.S. Senate in Maryland.
The Federal Election Commission website indicates Chelsea Manning on Thursday filed for candidacy to run as a Democrat in the mid-term election.
It would be difficult for Manning to wrest the Democratic nomination from incumbent Sen. Ben Cardin (D-Md.), who’s seen as the overwhelming favorite as he runs for a third term. The primary is set for June 28.
However, if Manning were to succeed, she’d the be the first openly transgender person elected to Congress. Manning would also be yet another LGBT candidate in a prominent statewide election among many others seeking to ride the expected Democratic wave in 2018.
Manning, who was granted clemency by President Barack Obama last year after she served seven years for leaking government secrets, has been a controversial figure.
Supporters say a video of a Baghdad airstrike she made public exposed war crimes the United States committed during the Iraq war, but opponents point to a subsequent dump of 251,287 State Department cables as evidence she was indiscriminately leaking information and jeopardizing the lives and work of U.S. intelligence analysts.
Manning was sentenced to 35 years at Fort Leavenworth in Kansas. Although Manning served a shorter sentence thanks to Obama’s commutation, her time in prison was longer than the time served by anyone else in the United States convicted of leaking classified information.
Over the course of her time in Fort Leavenworth, a men’s prison, Manning faced challenges as a result of her gender identity after coming out as transgender on the first day of her sentence. The Army initially refused to provide her with hormone therapy and gender reassignment surgery, but agreed to provide the treatment last year as a result of a lawsuit filed by the American Civil Liberties Union.
Manning didn’t respond to the Washington Blade’s request for comment on whether she’d, in fact, pursue a run for the seat, nor has she declared candidacy on her Twitter account even though she’s a prolific social media user.