In the Democratic primary, one of three men who have held the seat in the past 49 years has been campaigning on his experience. Kweisi Mfume, a former NAACP president, was the district's congressman for five terms between 1987 and 1996.
“We remind people as much as we can that in this case I'm proven, tested and ready to go to work on Day 1,” the 71-year-old said in a recent interview with The Associated Press. The primary for the rarely open seat has drawn several state legislators in the district that includes a large portion of Baltimore, as well as parts of the suburbs in Baltimore and Howard counties. Cummings' widow, Maya Rockeymoore Cummings, who is a former chairwoman of the Maryland Democratic Party, also is running.
State Sen. Jill Carter, whose district includes west Baltimore, is campaigning as the more progressive candidate. The 55-year-old described the primary as “very much a tug of war with a lot of the old guard.”
“I'm the new guard,” Carter said. “I think it speaks for itself, because my campaign drew a lot of very young people, and I'm not young, so my ideals mesh with their ideals.” Other Democrats include Del. Talmadge Branch, an east Baltimore state legislator, and Del. Terri Hill, whose district starts at Baltimore's southwestern border and runs through parts of Baltimore and Howard counties. Del. Jay Jalisi, whose district is northwest of the city in Baltimore County, also is running.
Democrats outnumber Republicans by more than 4-1 in the majority-black district, which includes parts of the inner city that have struggled with drugs and violent crime as well as more well-to-do communities in the suburbs.
For Republicans, candidate Kimberly Klacik has received attention after her social media posts showing trash in Baltimore prompted President Donald Trump to tweet that the district is a “disgusting, rat and rodent infested mess” where “no human being would want to live.”
Liz Matory, who was the 2018 GOP nominee in a neighboring congressional district, also is running for the seat. Other Republican candidates on the ballot are Christopher Anderson, James Arnold, Ray Bly, Brian Brown, Reba Hawkins and William Newton.
The winners will run in a special general election on April 28 to serve the rest of Cummings' term through Jan. 3, 2021. Cummings, who won 12 terms in Congress, died in October. Whoever wins the special election will have to stand for reelection in November to keep the seat.