WASHINGTON • Ms Chelsea Manning, the transgender former Army private who was convicted of passing sensitive government documents to WikiLeaks, is seeking to run for the US Senate in Maryland, according to federal election filings.
Ms Manning would be challenging Democrat Benjamin Cardin, who is in his second term in the Senate and considered an overwhelming favourite to win a third term when he comes up for reelection in November.
His spokesman and the Democratic Party of Maryland declined to comment on Ms Manning's filing, and Ms Manning also declined to comment when reached at her home on Saturday, adding that she might release a statement later.
Ms Manning, 30, formerly known as Bradley Manning, was convicted in 2013 of the largest leak of classified documents in US history and was sentenced to 35 years in prison.
Last year, as President Barack Obama was nearing the end of his term in office, he commuted her sentence to time served, and she was released from a military prison in Kansas.
The news of Ms Manning's filing caught Maryland's political class by surprise last Saturday. It was first reported in a tweet by the conservative media outlet Red Maryland.
A candidate with national name recognition, such as Ms Manning, could tap a network of donors interested in elevating a progressive agenda.
Ms Manning moved to Maryland after her release from prison. Since then, she has written for The Guardian and Medium on issues of transparency, free speech and civil liberties, transgender rights and computer security, according to her website.
Her statement of candidacy was filed with the Federal Election Commission last Thursday.
She is running as a Democrat and refers to Maryland as her "home state" on her website. The Democratic primary is scheduled for the end of June.
St Mary's College political science professor Todd Eberly said Mr Donald Trump's unexpected rise to the presidency opened the door for political neophytes such as Ms Manning.
"My initial thought quite literally was, 'Donald Trump is President, Oprah Winfrey is the leading contender for Democrats in 2020, why the hell not Chelsea Manning in the US Senate?' " he said.