WYNN, Albert Russell

WYNN, Albert Russell
Collection of the U.S. House of Representatives
1951–

Biography

Albert Wynn won election to the U.S. House of Representatives in 1992, in an affluent, predominantly African–American district in suburban Maryland. With a decade of service in the state legislature, Wynn quickly adapted to the U.S. House, eventually earning a seat on the prestigious Energy and Commerce Committee and moving into the hierarchy of the Congressional Black Caucus (CBC).

Albert Russell Wynn was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, on September 10, 1951. His family moved to North Carolina, where his father, Albert Fitzgerald Wynn, farmed and his mother, Rose Russell Wynn, taught school.1 When his father was hired by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the family moved to a suburb of Washington, DC, where Wynn attended the public schools in Prince George’s County, Maryland. In 1973, Wynn graduated with a bachelor of science degree in political science from the University of Pittsburgh. He briefly studied public administration at Howard University in Washington, DC, before entering Georgetown University and earning a law degree in 1977. Wynn later served as director of the Prince George’s consumer protection commission. After opening his own law firm in 1982, Wynn won election to the Maryland house of delegates, where he served from 1983 to 1987. He was then elected to the Maryland state senate, serving there until 1993 and rising to the post of deputy majority whip. Wynn is married to Gaines Clore Wynn, an artist and art educator. They have two daughters, Meredith and Gabrielle, and a grandson, Kaden Nicholas.

Following the 1990 Census, the Maryland state legislature created a new congressional district that encompassed sections of Prince George’s and Montgomery counties inside the Capital Beltway along the border of the District of Columbia. In the 1970s and 1980s, Prince George’s County had become increasingly African American as blacks from Washington, DC, moved to the suburbs. Prince George’s County was home to a large group of middle– to upper–middle–class African Americans, many of whom were federal workers, and blacks accounted for 58 percent of the heavily Democratic district. In the March 3, 1992, Democratic primary, Wynn garnered 28 percent of the vote, defeating his closest opponent, Prince George’s County’s State’s Attorney Alex Williams, by several percentage points—in large measure because he performed better than Williams in the Montgomery County sections of the district.2 Wynn easily prevailed in the general election, claiming 75 percent of the vote against Republican candidate Michele Dyson, an African–American business consultant. In his subsequent seven re–election bids, Wynn won with pluralities of 75 percent or more (he received 87 percent of the vote in 1998).3

When Wynn took his seat in the House on January 5, 1993, he received assignments on three committees: Banking, Finance, and Urban Affairs (later named Financial Services), Foreign Affairs, and post Office and Civil Service. In the 105th Congress (1997–1999) Representative Wynn accepted a post on the prestigious Commerce Committee (later named Energy and Commerce), requiring him to yield his prior assignments. In the 110th Congress (2007–2009) he was appointed chairman of the Subcommittee on Environment and Hazardous Materials. From 2002 until 2007, Wynn chaired the CBC’s political Action Committee and Minority Business Task Force. He headed the CBC task forces on campaign finance reform and minority business and served as a Senior and Regional Whip.4

Wynn’s district was home to more federal workers (70,000) than any other district in the country. In addition, a number of small businesses in Wynn’s district contracted with federal agencies. Much of his legislative agenda focused on issues affecting that constituency; for instance, Wynn was a leading advocate for the protection of federal salaries and pensions as well as for the creation of more federal contracts for minority businesses and small businesses. Wynn was also focused on bringing federal dollars into the district for transportation and infrastructure projects.5

Reapportionment after the 2000 Census pulled several heavily Democratic sections out of Wynn’s district and added more conservative locales in the suburbs of Montgomery County. In 2006, Wynn faced a stiff primary challenge from Donna F. Edwards, a lawyer and non–profit director. He prevailed by three percentage points (roughly 3,000 votes).6 Nevertheless, in the general election, Representative Wynn won re–election, with 80 percent of the vote, against Republican challenger Michael Moshe Starkman. In a 2008 Democratic primary rematch, Edwards defeated Wynn with 60 percent of the vote.7 Wynn resigned from the House on May 31, 2008.

Footnotes

1Politics in America, 2008 (Washington, DC: Congressional Quarterly Inc., 2007): 468.

2Michele L. Norris, “Montgomery Bolstered Wynn; Lower Turnout in P.G. Hurt Williams in Democratic House Primary,” 5 March 1992, Washington Post: C1; Michele Norris, “4th District Nod Goes to Wynn; Rep. Byron Loses in Upset in Maryland’s 6th District,” 4 March 1992, Washington Post: A1.

3“Election Statistics, 1920 to Present,” available at http://clerk.house.gov/member_info/electionInfo/2006election.pdf.

4“Official Biography of Congressman Albert Russell Wynn,” http://www.wynn.house.gov/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=14&Itemid=26 (accessed 29 October 2007).

5“Official Biography of Congressman Albert Russell Wynn”; Politics in America, 2006 (Washington, DC: Congressional Quarterly Inc. 2005): 476.

6William Wan, “Final Counts Put Wynn, Kramer Over Challengers,” 24 September 2006, Washington Post: C3; Ovetta Wiggins, “Pr. George’s Ballots Keep Wynn in Lead,” 23 September 2006, Washington Post: B1.

7Rosalind S. Helderman, “Edwards Overpowers Wynn; 8–Term Congressman Concedes After Heated Race; Gilchrest in Tough Fight,” 13 February 2008, Washington Post: A21; Aaron Blake, “Marylanders Gilchrest, Wynn Get Voter Rebuke,” 14 February 2008, The Hill: 4.

View Record in the Biographical Directory of the U.S. Congress

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External Research Collections

University of Maryland Libraries
Archives and Manuscripts Department, Hornbake Library

College Park, MD
Papers: ca. 1983-2008, 37.5 linear feet. This collection pertains entirely to Albert Wynn's service in the House of Representatives. A large portion of the collection consists of news clippings, correspondence, and committee files, as well as extensive collections of video and audio tape and photographs documenting Wynn's activities. Issues mentioned in the files include the War in Iraq, the environment, minority-owned and small business, energy policy, television ratings, affirmative action, and employment discrimination. Correspondents include many national politicians active during the period 1993 to 2008, especially other members of Maryland's Congressional Delegation, Presidents Bill Clinton and George W. Bush, Vice President Al Gore, and other members of the Congressional Black Caucus. The collection is unprocessed but a preliminary inventory is available.
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Bibliography / Further Reading

"Albert R. Wynn" in Black Americans in Congress, 1870-2007. Prepared under the direction of the Committee on House Administration by the Office of History & Preservation, U. S. House of Representatives. Washington: Government Printing Office, 2008.

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Committee Assignments

  • House Committee - Banking and Financial Services
  • House Committee - Banking, Finance, and Urban Affairs
  • House Committee - Commerce
  • House Committee - Energy and Commerce
    • Environment and Hazardous Materials - Chair
  • House Committee - Foreign Affairs
  • House Committee - International Relations
  • House Committee - Post Office and Civil Service
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