Former NAACP president and CEO Kweisi Mfume and Republican strategist Kimberly Klacik are projected to face off for the 7th Congressional District seat held for years by the late Rep. Elijah Cummings.
For Mfume, a Democrat, winning the general election would mean a return to the House seat he held for nearly a decade, from 1987 to 1996. He then went on to lead the fabled civil rights organization, which is headquartered in Baltimore, from 1996 to 2004.
Klacik, who runs a nonprofit to help disadvantaged women get a career and has served on the Baltimore County Republican Central Committee, made headlines last year when she attacked Cummings over conditions in the district.
The images of trash and blighted rowhomes were aired on Fox News, and later became the subject of several tweets by President Trump bashing the city and Cummings, whose House Oversight Committee was investigating the treatment of migrants detained at the U.S.-Mexico border.
Trump said Cummings’ district “is a disgusting, rat and rodent infested mess.” The district includes parts of Baltimore City, Baltimore County and Howard County. Per data journalist Nate Silver of the website FiveThirtyEight, it is the second-wealthiest majority-black Congressional district in the country.
With nearly all 313 precincts reporting, Mfume received 43 percent of the vote, or 28,431 votes, clearly outpacing the rest of the 24-person Democratic field. Cummings’ widow, Maya Rockeymoore Cummings, former head of the Maryland Democratic Party, was a distant second with 17.1 percent. Baltimore State Sen. Jill P. Carter came in third at 16 percent. No other candidate surpassed 7.6 percent.
On the Republican side, Klacik held a similar advantage in the eight-candidate field. She received 41 percent support from the electorate, with the next closest competitor, Liz Matory, receiving 24.5 percent.
In responses to a voters guide from The Sun, Mfume said the Trump administration “is a bigger disappointment than I ever could have imagined,” adding that income inequality remains a significant problem. He cited Trump’s tax cuts as an example of “wealth redistribution.”
Mfume wrote he would work to raise the minimum wage to $15 per hour and have it indexed to inflation.
“Ultimately, I favor a livable wage that is consistent with the dignity of hard work,” he wrote. “I will work to revisit the most recent tax cuts for the highest earning Americans so that we can invest that money into long term economic successes, including increased education funding.”
Conversely, Klacik told The Sun that Trump “is doing a good job” and is “exposing the career politicians for what they are, posers.”
She said Baltimore’s income inequality is an example of “politicians stealing from the poor & making back door deals helping themselves,” while pledging to provide support to the Baltimore Police Department and work to revamp the city’s education system.
Mfume’s path to the nomination was not as easy as the results make it sound. After searching through the archives of Julian Bond, the former NAACP chairman, The Sun reported Mfume actually left the organization “following the threat of a lawsuit alleging sexual harassment, several negative performance reviews.”
He defended his record by pointing to an endorsement from the National Organization for Women–one that came in 2006, when he was running for U.S. Senate. The group said it did not approve of his use of the 14-year-old endorsement.
Mfume and Klacik will face off in a April 28 in a special general election to complete Cummings’ term. That’s also the same day as the primary election for the 2020 cycle, meaning another field of candidates will compete for their respective party’s nomination to run in the general election in November.
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