Former NAACP president and Rep. Kweisi Mfume announced his bid for the late Rep. Elijah Cummings’ congressional seat on Monday.
It is a seat the former NAACP head held for five terms until 1997, when he stepped down to take over the civil rights organization. Cummings followed in his friend's footsteps and represented Maryland’s 7th Congressional District, which includes Baltimore, until his death last month.
“A month ago, I would have never imagined that I would be before you this afternoon in this capacity. A month ago, my dear friend Elijah was alive and well,” Mfume told supporters, who passed around stickers with his campaign logo on them at the Reginald F. Lewis Museum of Maryland African American History and Culture on Monday.
“His memory and spirit to fight back and fight on is alive and well and here with us today,” Mfume said. “I need you with me. I need you with me because like you, like you, all of us believe in the American right to clean water, to clean air, to a good education for children no matter where their zip code or what their surname is… I ask all of you to join me in this fight.”
Mfume also ran for an open Senate seat in 2006, but narrowly lost the primary to Ben Cardin.
Maryland Delegate and Majority Whip Talmadge Branch said last Thursday that he would make a bid for the seat, the first elected official to do so, according to the Washington Post. Pulmonologist Mark Gosnell has also announced that he intends to run.
Cummings’ widow, Maya Rockeymoore Cummings, who is the chairwoman of the Maryland Democratic Party, has said she is “thinking carefully” about a bid for the seat and said last week that she would announce her decision soon.
The seat is seen as safely Democratic.
The special primary election to replace Cummings is slated for Feb. 4. The special general election will be Apr. 28, the same day as Maryland’s 2020 primary election. Candidates have until Nov. 20 to file for the seat.