Earlier today, Maryland Governor Larry Hogan announced the dates of the upcoming special election that will be held to fill the vacancy in the state’s 7th congressional district, which became vacant after the passing of Congressman Elijah Cummings a week ago.
Issuing a proclamation ordering a special election to fill the vacant congressional seat, as required by state law, the Governor chose the special Primary Election to be held on Tuesday, February 4, 2020 – 76-days after the filing deadline for this election. Anyone interested in running to fill the vacant congressional seat will have until close of business on Wednesday, November 20th of this year to file their paperwork with the state board of elections.
And one person who has expressed his sincere interest in possibly filling that vacancy is the man who had served in the congressional seat prior to Congressman Cummings – former Congressman Kweisi Mfume. After seeing and hearing from dozens of people who have called him or seen him personally, several sources have confirmed that Mr. Mfume said he was amazed by the level of support he has received, especially by those who had read the DMVDailyNews opinion piece articulating why Mfume would be the best candidate to fill the vacancy, due to his familiarity with the position and his decade of experience being carried over with him if elected, giving him immediate seniority in the House of Representatives.
Mfume, who turned 71-years old last week, served for ten years in Congress before being appointed as the President and CEO of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), and would be the front-runner in what is expected to be a quick and dirty campaign that will likely be won by whoever has the greatest name recognition and/or the most money to mount a campaign within roughly 90-days. And while candidates looking to run in the special election can begin filing their certificates of candidacy later this week on Wednesday, October 30th (Halloween), it will likely be a whole lot of tricks being played over the next few months, as people gear up to run for this coveted congressional seat.
However, whichever Democrat wins the February primary election, would then have to face off against whatever Republican candidate wins on that day, as well as any third party or independent candidates filed to run in the special election. They would face off in a special General Election that will happen on the same day as the Presidential Primary election, making the April 28th election confusing to not only voters, but to the typically poorly trained poll workers having to man the polls throughout the 7th congressional district on that day.
Typically, a Primary election doesn’t allow for third party and independent voters to cast their ballots, since primary elections are only for Democratic and Republican voters who are voting on who they believe should represent their party in the General Election. But given that Governor Hogan aligned the special general election with the presential primary, now third party and independent voters from the seventh congressional district will be allowed to vote in the April 28th primary – but in that race alone.
And to add to the confusion, whoever wins this race only gets to serve out the remainder of Congressman Cummings’ term, which ends in January of 2021. However, if they planned on wanting to hang on to the seat longer than that, they would have to also file to run in the April 28th Primary and November 3rd General elections, and that filing deadline isn’t until January 24, 2020.
So, someone like Mr. Mfume could decide that they only want to serve the remainder of Congressman Cummings term, deciding to just file for the special election, meaning they’d only have to file their certificate of candidacy once, by the November 20th deadline. However, if former congressman Mfume decided he wanted to serve beyond that January 3, 2020 date when Congressman Cummings’ term expires, than he would have to file by November 20th of this year, and again by January 24th of next year; and have his name on the February 20th AND the April 28th Primaries, as well as on the April 28th AND the November 3rd General Election ballots (if he won both primaries), in order to win the seat outright.
And while Congressman Cummings’ seat will remain vacant until someone wins the April 28th special general election; this process is probably the most confusing process to get it filled. As an election specialist, most would rather have seen the special general election being done prior to the April 28th primary election, possibly adding an additional day to Early Voting just for this congressional race, so that voters and election workers are not confused by the different ballots.
However, regardless of the date, it appears as if Congressman Mfume is incher closer to possibly getting into a race that at one time appeared to be Congressman Cummings’ wife Maya’s for the taking. I guess we shall see now who has the wherewithal and electoral expertise to stave off the rest of what is sure to be a crowded field of congressional candidates. Let the games begin…
Congressman Kweisi Mfume speaks at Congressman Elijah Cummings’ funeral: