Many Democratic political operatives will be frustrated to see attention focused on an intra-party skirmish over a fairly safe blue seat, rather than on a cohesive anti-Trump message. At the same time, the national victory they desire will require turning out progressives inspired by Manning who may not often vote during mid-term general elections.

Cardin has yet to lose a political race, and is well-funded and connected in his home state. Manning could capitalize on her national profile to raise money and build support among the left-wing voters in the primary, but she is untested as a candidate and would no doubt face a hard slog. Her candidacy would undoubtedly bring attention, both in Maryland and around the nation, to transgender rights and the rise of the security state.

In many states, Manning would be unable to vote after being convicted of a felony, but Maryland passed a law last year that allows felons to participate in elections. During his career in the senate, Cardin has frequently advocated restoring voting rights to felons.

Correction: An earlier version of this article incorrectly reported that felons could not run for federal office in Maryland; in fact, there is no prohibition on felons running for federal office in the US.

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