On Tuesday evening, voters of the seventh congressional district were holding their breath hoping that the same shenanigans that dogged the Iowa caucuses the night before were not repeated. Supporters of candidates sat patiently staring at their phones and tablets on the state election board website, hoping that jurisdictions like Baltimore City – who has been known to screw up elections over the past few years, including 2016’s mayoral election that was decertified for the first time in Maryland election history – did not have them waiting for the results through the wee hours of the morning.
And they were in luck, as the numbers from Tuesday night’s special primary election to fill the vacant congressional seat once held by the late, Elijah Cummings, came trickling in a fast and rather expedited fashion. “They only have one damn race on the ballot, they can’t screw this up…can they,” asked one [Kweisi] Mfume supporter, as she watched the results stall on the big screen projector they had posted at the former congressman’s victory celebration at the Forum in NW Baltimore.
And almost as if her words were heard by the election gods, or at least the men and women at the state board of elections, the first set of numbers came barreling in, and it showed that Mfume had a pretty comfortable lead. “Hold up, these are numbers largely from Baltimore City, Howard County hasn’t even began reporting their numbers yet,” one campaign worker yelled out cautiously.
And while Howard County’s results were not favorable to the former Baltimore City Councilman, Congressman and NAACP leader, it didn’t matter given the dominance he showed in Baltimore City, and to some degree the neighboring Baltimore County precincts. The 71-year old Mfume had pulled off the #MfumeMiracle, a comeback story for the ages, as he ultimately won the crowded democratic primary to return to the seat he once held before handing it over to Cummings in 1996.
Having been out of elected office for close to twenty-five years, many of his opponents banked on the voters of the seventh congressional district not knowing who he was, hoping that they would fill that vacuum of leadership with the departure of Cummings – who over the years became the de-facto political leader of the African American community. Now it appears as if Mfume has taken over that throne, since the winner of the democratic primary is all but ensured the victory during the General Election given the dominance in voter registration totals Democrats hold over their Republican opponents, having a nearly four-to-one advantage.
But Kimberly Klacik, the Republican nominee who also won on Tuesday night, believes that her viral video pointing to the trash and filth of the seventh district while Cummings was alive, will help propel her to victory on April 28th – as voters will see clear differences in approaches to policy and community engagement between her and her democratic challenger. Klacik, whose viral video prompted President Donald Trump to begin a Twitter rant against Cummings where he eviscerated the district and former congressman, led to many in the district pushing back against Trump and Klacik – who doesn’t even live in the city or the congressional district she’s running in.
“She’s a joke,” said one Mfume campaign staffer on Tuesday night. “Maybe she should move into the district instead of following in her leader’s [Trump] footsteps by criticizing people on social media instead of having a civil conversation in person to help address the social ills that exist not only in Baltimore City, but across the district, state and country. That is what Congressman Mfume is about, finding common ground and solutions to the problems that exist that regardless of party affiliation, we can all work together in helping to improve our communities.”
And while Mfume dominated receiving more votes than the next three closest competitors combined, it appears as if they – along with most of the other twenty-four democrats in the field – are preparing to continue their fight on the April 28th Primary ballot, as they all seek to get the nod to serve out a new, two-year term. So while Mfume will face Klacik on the same day in the General Election to see who fill out the remaining few months of Cummings term which expires on January 3, 2021, he will also have to hold off his democratic challengers in the primary election if he plans on serving in that role for the two years that follow.
Candidates have until tonight to declare whether or not they intend on dropping out of the race or remaining on the ballot in April, which may very well determine how well Mfume and others do given their name placement and the number of candidates vying for the seat. And while most candidates who lost on Tuesday night conceded admirably to Mfume, some appeared hostile and just plain old sore losers.
State Senator Jill P. Carter, who came in third behind Congressman Cummings widow and the former chair of the Maryland Democratic Party, Dr. Maya Rockeymoore-Cummings, vowed on Twitter to continue the fight after thanking what she called the “establishment candidate” for staying in the lead. Given that Mfume has never been seen as the “establishment”, it made some folks on Twitter question are rationale of that statement. But then she took it a step further in that same tweet, responding to a supporter asking what happened, and Carter responds: “We miscalculated…I do not believe it is what most of the ‘regular voters’ want either. 70-90 year old voters should not determine our fate.”
It appears Carter can’t get over the fact that she lost, but to blame “seniors” for not supporting her candidacy, and making it seem as if they were the only voters to support Mfume, shows her lack of political gravitas or showing any sense of humility. “Instead of congratulating the man who just beat you by an almost three-to-one margin, you want to sling mud and then denigrate the voters whose shoulders you stand on, based on their support of the Mr. Mfume while acting as if you somehow are the ‘chosen candidate’ of the younger generation, when you didn’t even come in second, shows that Jill P. Carter is delusional and unfit to serve in Congress,” said one senior spokesman for the Mfume campaign.
They went on to say, “could you imagine her in congress with Trump in the White House, those two would make Congress a real-life reality show, engaging in Twitter warfare, both with some inflated sense of self-worth and huge egos who can’t seem to get beyond themselves in understanding that being in elected office isn’t about you, but rather the men and women who elect you to serve on their behalf and for their interests. I doubt any senior would want to vote for someone who throws them under the bus when they lose, the way Ms. Carter has.”
I guess on April 28th we shall see?