Mfume Wins Special Election in Maryland to Replace Elijah Cummings in Congress

Kweisi Mfume, Democratic nominee for Maryland’s 7th Congressional District, speaks at a Feb. 4 victory party in Baltimore. (AP Photo/Gail Burton, File)

BALTIMORE (CN) — Voters in Maryland have returned a veteran former congressman to the seat he left two decades ago.

With mailed-in ballots received through Monday counted, former U.S. Representative and former NAACP Executive Director Kweisi Mfume leads his Republican challenger 73% to 27% in the race for Maryland’s 7th Congressional District

Due to the Covid-19 pandemic, the election was conducted mainly by mail-in ballot, with just three in-person polling places open and drop boxes for hand delivery of paper ballots. Fewer than 1,000 people voted in person, according to the Baltimore Sun, and the percentage of eligible votes cast looked to be in the low-to-mid 20s.

Election officials have said it will take several days to receive, quarantine and then validate and count the ballots to achieve a final official tally, but all day the district’s heavy Democratic advantage left little doubt about the outcome.

Mfume’s Republican opponent, Kimberly Klacik, is a political newcomer who rode to fame on a viral video and occasional Fox News appearances. 

The absentee ballot process was not without glitches. Voters reported receiving ballots late, or sometimes not at all. Some ballot instructions erroneously told voters to affix “at least two stamps” to the included envelope to cover postage. Others correctly explained that the ballots were prepaid. 

Mfume, who served the district from 1987 until 1996, pledges to continue the legacy of his friend Elijah Cummings, who took the seat over from him and died last fall. He will serve out the term ending next January and says his former congressional service will entitle him to seniority not available to a true freshman.

But there will be another election on June 2 — a primary encompassing this seat and many others, including the presidential race. Both Mfume and Klacik will have to beat back their party rivals again if they hope for a rematch in the November general election, when turnout is expected to be much higher — whether or not people vote in person.

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