After the years of fighting from the outside to change politics and policy as the co-founder and first executive director of the National Network to End Domestic Violence and then as the executive director for the Center for a New Democracy and a key player in the progressive non-profit community, Donna Edwards is headed for a place on the inside.

Edwards upset Maryland Congressman Al Wynn Tuesday in a primary contest that saw union, environmental and progressive activists challenge a Democratic incumbent who had voted to authorize President Bush to attack Iraq, endorsed Dick Cheney’s energy bill, sided with corporate donors to gut environmental programs and backed bankruptcy reforms that favored credit card companies over consumers.

That record earned Edwards the enthusiastic support of the Service Employees International Union — union president Andy Stern wrote a broadly circulated letter on her behalf — the Sierra Club, the Friends of the Earth PAC, the League of Conservation Voters, Clean Water Action, Emily’s List, the National Organization for Women, the Women’s Campaign Fund, Progressive Democrats of America, Democracy for America, Progressive Maryland, ACORN PAC and many local groups.

On Tuesday night, Edwards was beating Wynn 59 to 37 percent as the incumbent conceded.

“Today the voters went to the polls looking for change. They selected a new leadership that will finally put the public’s interest first,” declared Edwards. “I will wake up every morning and ask, ‘What can I do to make a difference in people’s lives?'”

Said Progressive Democrats of America national director Tim Carpenter, “Despite Wynn’s huge advantages in terms of special interest contributions and insider connections, Donna Edwards marshaled support from what Wynn’s campaign dismissed as ‘a vast left-wing conspiracy’ to beat the most conservative member of the Congressional Black Caucus.”

Edwards emerges from the primary as a favorite to win the seat representing a heavily-Democratic district. She’ll keep campaigning but the veteran organizer is already talking about what she plans to do to shake up Congress — still working with her outsider allies but now from the inside.