The pressing issue of a global pandemic has consumed the public’s attention over the past two months, but throughout that time Maryland’s 7th Congressional District has remained unrepresented.
That will change after tomorrow when – in the state’s first election to be conducted primarily by mail – voters decide who will succeed Rep. Elijah E. Cummings, who represented the district for more than two decades before his death last October.
Voters’ options are a #MAGA Republican running for office for the first time and a moderate Democrat with long legislative experience, but who also has been dogged by accusations of sexual harassment. The winner will serve out the rest of the current term, which ends January 3.
The district, heavily gerrymandered like most of Maryland to Democrats’ advantage, includes parts of Baltimore City, Baltimore County and Howard County.
Here’s a brief profile of each:
The Democratic candidate, Mfume preceded Cummings in the same district, serving 10 years in Congress before leaving to head the NAACP.
He rose to chair the Congressional Black Caucus, one of the reasons he enjoys overwhelming support among older black voters. Since the district was revived following the 1950 census, it has only been represented by four men, all Democrats.
Now 71, Mfume easily won the crowded special primary on February 4 with 43% of the vote. (His top two competitors, Cummings’s widow Maya Rockeymoore Cummings, and progressive State Sen. Jill Carter, took second and third place with 17% and 16%, respectively.)
Mfume described himself as a “progressive moderate” at a January debate. He supports expanding on the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare, rather than overhauling the healthcare system to provide Medicare to all Americans.
He supports gun reform and lowering drug prices and student loan debt.
The Republican candidate, Klacik runs a nonprofit aimed at helping women find employment and reach financial independence.
She gained notoriety last year when her social media posts caught the attention of President Donald Trump, who proceeded to criticize Cummings on Twitter for West Baltimore’s poverty and blight.
Klacik, who won the Republican primary with about 40% of the vote, supports privatized healthcare, gun rights and “no more socialism in District 7.”
Klacik is a member of the Baltimore County Republican Central Committee. She describes herself on her Twitter account as “ProTrump. Anti-Squad. Zero Tolerance for Corruption.”
Mail-in Test Run
In one of his earliest actions in response to the coronavirus pandemic, Gov. Larry Hogan delayed Maryland’s primary election by five weeks, from April 28 to June 2.
But in order to fill Cummings’s seat as soon as possible, Hogan did not delay the special general election, requiring that it be conducted primarily by mail. (Three polling places – see below – will remain open for voters who need assistance.)
As a result, Tuesday’s election provides state officials with an opportunity to identify and fix problems before the primary.
There have already been hiccups – some voters have not received their ballots. The state has encouraged people to print a PDF of the ballot, which is much more difficult now that schools and libraries are closed.
Only ballots postmarked April 28 or earlier will be considered.
Tomorrow’s election will only decide who will serve the rest of Cummings’s term.
The June 2 primary and November general elections will decide who represents the district for the next full term, which begins in January.
Register to vote here.
Click here and enter your address to find out if you live in the 7th.
Check your voter registration here.
NOTE: If you couldn’t get a mail-in ballot and need to do it in person, you have three choices between the hours of 7 a.m. and 8 p.m. tomorrow. (Officials say they will ensure voters and staff will maintain social distancing)
Baltimore City – Edmondson High School, 501 N. Athol Ave. in Southwest Baltimore.
Baltimore County – Martin’s West, 6817 Dogwood Road in Windsor Mill.
Howard County – Howard County Fairgrounds, 2210 Fairgrounds Road in West Friendship.
Past Brew coverage
• How Kweisi Mfume steamrolled the opposition (2/5/20)