Race for Elijah Cummings’ Congressional seat heats up

It’s only been a few weeks since Maryland Rep. Elijah Cummings died, but the race to fill his seat seemingly began immediately upon the news of his death. On Monday, Cummings’ widow, Maya Rockeymoore Cummings, became the latest person to declare candidacy for Maryland’s 7th congressional district, which her husband presided over for more than two decades on Capitol Hill.

“I am, of course, devastated at the loss of my spouse, but his spirit is with me,” Rockeymoore Cummings told the Baltimore Sun in an interview published late Monday afternoon. “I’m going to run this race and I’m going to run it hard, as if he’s still right here by my side.”

Rockeymoore Cummings’ candidacy isn’t necessarily a surprise. There were reports last month in the days after Cummings died that Rockeymoore Cummings, who is already the Maryland Democratic Party Chairwoman, would be seeking her husband’s seat. Rockeymoore Cummings also ran unsuccessfully for Maryland governor in 2017.

While there hasn’t been any polling conducted for the race, winning the election may not be that easy for Rockeymoore Cummings, who will be facing off against a stacked field of experienced politicians, including one person with arguably greater name recognition than she has who also previously held the seat that at least 17 people are currently running for.

That would be Kweisi Mfume, the former Representative from Maryland’s 7th district whose resignation from Congress created the vacancy that was ultimately filled by the late Cummings in 1996 until his death on Oct. 17 of this year. Mfume, who is also a former president of the NAACP, announced his intent to run for Cummings’ seat on Nov. 4, the Washington Post reported.

“Today, we are here without Elijah,” Mfume said during his announcement in downtown Baltimore. “I honestly believe that I’ve got to find a way to make sure that all he and others fought for is not lost, tossed to the side or forgotten.”

After Rockeymoore Cummings and Mfume, though, the field of candidates has a decidedly more local flavor than the aforementioned two national figures. According to CBS Baltimore, those names include Republican activist Kimberly Klacikand Maryland State Sen. Jill Carter and Maryland State Del. Talmadge Branch.

However, none of the above names have registered for the special election to fill Cummings’ seat. The deadline to do so is Nov. 20, which is rapidly approaching.

Klacik, who is Black, is also known for posting horrible (and carefully selected) videos about Baltimore on her social media, prompting a racist Twitter attack on the city and Rep. Cummings by President Donald Trump, who she supports.

As of Tuesday afternoon, the Maryland Board of Elections’ website listed three Republicans and nine Democrats who have officially declared their candidacy. For the Republicans, that included Ray BlyReba A. Hawkins and Liz Matory. The Democrats who have registered to run included T. Dan BakerBrian E. BritcherAnthony Carter, Sr.Darryl GonzalezMark Steven GosnellF. Michael HigginbothamCharles U. SmithHarry Spikes and Charles Stokes.

The special primary election is scheduled for Feb. 4, 2020, with the actual special election set to be held on April 28 — the same day the state’s presidential primary is set to be held.