By Nicole Weinstein, Capital News Service
COLLEGE PARK, Maryland – Baltimore area voters Tuesday picked former Rep. Kweisi Mfume as the Democratic nominee and Kimberly Klacik as the Republican nominee to vie for the unfinished term of the late Rep. Elijah Cummings, who died unexpectedly on Oct. 17.
With 93 percent of the Democratic vote counted, Mfume had 43 percent; with 90 percent of the GOP vote tallied, Klacik had 41 percent.
Mfume and Klacik will face off April 28. Because Maryland’s 7th District is heavily Democratic, Mfume will be the heavy favorite to win a return to the seat he left in 1996 to become head of the NAACP. Cummings won the election to replace him.
April’s victor will have to turn around and run for reelection in November.
Baltimore native Mfume, 71, represented the 7th District from 1987 until February 1996. He was the president and CEO of the NAACP from 1996 until 2004. He also is a former member of the Baltimore City Council.
Klacik, a Baltimore resident and member of the Baltimore County Republican Central Committee, founded a nonprofit called Potential Me to help underserved women get jobs.
Her videos of trash in West Baltimore last summer sparked a Twitter outburst from President Donald Trump, who called the city a “rodent-infested mess.”
In addition to Mfume, the crowded field of 24 Democrats included Cummings’s wife, Maya Rockeymoore Cummings; Elijah Cummings staffer Harry Spikes; and Maryland State Sen. Jill Carter, who was endorsed by former NAACP President Ben Jealous and The Baltimore Sun.
The Cummings ties brought some awkward campaign moments. The congressman’s daughters endorsed Spikes over Maya Rockeymoore Cummings, former chairwoman of the Maryland Democratic Party.
Polls opened at 7 a.m. and closed at 8 p.m., with turnout projected to be more than 60,000 people. The district includes parts of Baltimore City, Baltimore County, and Howard Country.
Public schools in the area were closed for the elections.
Of the 32 candidates on the ballot, 24 were Democrats and eight were Republicans.