Congressional Candidates Debate as Staffers Spar in Maryland

Campaign workers for Rep. Albert Wynn, D-Md., and his primary challenger, Donna Edwards, scuffled Wednesday night outside a candidate's forum, according to both campaigns.

The altercation began when Edwards campaign workers saw two Wynn supporters allegedly ripping up Edwards signs outside the forum at Prince George's Community College. Someone from her campaign asked them to stop, which led to a confrontation, according to Pierre Cauthen, an Edwards volunteer.

"Words were exchanged," Cauthen told The Washington Post in a story printed Friday. "And the Wynn supporter hit the Donna Edwards supporter. Then another Wynn supporter jumped on him, too."

Wynn said his worker acted in self-defense.

"One of their people hit my people," Wynn said. "They got the worst of it."

Deidra Hall, a college spokeswoman, said campus police responded to a call for a fight between three men. An officer took two men in for questioning in handcuffs but only one was cited for disorderly conduct. One person was treated at the scene for a cut on the head, she said.

Edwards said Friday that she planned to hand over witness names and videotape evidence, which she didn't describe, to the county state's attorney's office. She also wants copies of 911 calls made during the incident, which she called a "brutal beating" in a statement.

Prince George's County State's Attorney Glenn F. Ivey said Friday that he has not decided whether to pursue criminal charges in the case.

"We're still waiting to see all the information," Ivey said. He added that investigators from his office would likely interview witnesses, but if charges are filed, he might have to ask a prosecutor from another jurisdiction in the state to handle the case.

"I know both candidates, and members of my staff may know those who were allegedly involved," Ivey said.

Inside the candidates forum, Edwards, a Prince George's County community activist, attacked Wynn's voting record on issues such as the war in Iraq, the repeal of the estate tax and changes in bankruptcy law.

Wynn, who has won his recent elections by landslides, said he is campaigning on his record and that he had delivered services and federal money for his district. He called Edwards a "professional critic from the sidelines."