Mfume, who preceded Cummings, announces run to succeed him

Kweisi Mfume announced Monday he’s running to succeed the late Rep. Elijah Cummings in the Maryland congressional seat the former NAACP president also held for a nearly a decade in the 1980s and 1990s.

In a speech Monday at the Reginald F. Lewis Museum of Maryland African-American History & Culture in Baltimore, Mfume, 71, said he will seek the Democratic nomination to return to his old seat and pledged to continue Cummings’ legacy.

“I honestly believe that I’ve got to find a way to make sure that all he and others fought for is not lost, tossed to the side or forgotten,” Mfume said.

Mfume, a graduate of Morgan State University and John Hopkins University, served on the Baltimore City Council before being elected to represent Maryland’s 7th Congressional District in 1986. The district encompasses parts of Baltimore City, Baltimore County and Howard County. He was succeeded by Cummings.

After leaving Congress in 1996, he was the head of the national NAACP, leading the nation’s largest civil rights organization between 1996 and 2004, and he was widely credited with turning around the organization, which was financially troubled at the time.

His tenure there, however, later became a source controversy after he admitted having an affair with a staffer, according to The Baltimore Sun.

In the speech announcing his candidacy, Mfume touted his experience.

“Trust me, if I were not trusted, prepared and ready to go go work on day one, I would not be here,” he said.

Cummings, who held the seat for more than 20 years and served as the chairman of the powerful House Oversight and Reform Committee, died Oct. 17 at 68.

Late last month, Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan announced the special election to fill Cummings’ seat will be held April 28, 2020. The Democratic primary will be held Feb. 4.

There has been widespread speculation that Cummings’ widow, Maya Rockeymoore Cummings, who also chairs the Maryland Democratic Party, will throw her hat in the ring for the open seat.

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