BALTIMORE (WJZ) — Rep. Elijah Cummings’ died early Thursday morning, after a battle with long-term health problems. He was 68.
Leaders have already begun their praise for the Maryland congressman, who led the 7th District in Baltimore for more than 20 years.
His wife, Maryland Democratic Party Chair Dr. Maya Rockeymoore Cummings, said he worked until his last breath.
“Congressman Cummings was an honorable man who proudly served his district and the nation with dignity, integrity, compassion and humility. He worked until his last breath because he believed our democracy was the highest and best expression of our collective humanity and that our nation’s diversity was our promise, not our problem,” She said. It’s been an honor to walk by his side on this incredible journey. I loved him deeply and will miss him dearly,”
Peter Franchot gave Cummings a nod for his devotion to the city, calling him a “legendary son of Baltimore,”
WATCH: Kweisi Mfume, who held the congressional seat representing Maryland’s 7th District immediately preceding Rep. Elijah Cummings, speaks with Vic Carter about his relationship with the late congressman.
U.S. Senator Ben Cardin and others praised Cummings’ devotion to service and friendship, and Sen. Van Hollen cited Cummings as a strong man of principle, unity, dignity and compassion.
“Rep. Cummings and I shared a city, an alma mater, a love of the law and a life of public service. I am deeply saddened by his passing…” Cardin said in a tweet early Thursday morning.
.@RepCummings guaranteed a voice to so many who would otherwise not have one, and stood as a symbol for the heights one could reach if they paid no mind to obstacles, naysayers and hate. His commitment to his city and country was unwavering, as will be my lasting respect for him.
— Senator Ben Cardin (@SenatorCardin) October 17, 2019
Baltimore Mayor Jack Young said in a statement that Cummings “wasn’t afraid to use his considerable intellect, booming voice and poetic oratory to speak out against brutal dictators bent on oppression, unscrupulous business executives who took advantage of unsuspecting customers, or even the U.S. President,”
Maryland Sen. President Mike Miller said “Elijah was fond of the quote, ‘Public service is the rent we pay for our space on this Earth,’ and he lived the spirit of those words every day. He will truly be missed,”
The community has started gathering around Cummings’ office, the first to show up was a city firefighter, Haki Ammi.
“Just being a strong powerful force, for a transformation for our community, just showing steadfast, you know, for going forward, even through his challenges and many people had debates on a political left or political right, but it wasn’t about that all the time with him, he truly was an American,” Ammi said. “He understood, he worked with different people in different groups so I’m just grateful for his work and you know, just taking a stand,”
Governor Larry Hogan described him as a fierce advocate for civil rights and for Maryland for decades.
“Congressman Cummings leaves behind an incredible legacy of fighting for Baltimore City and working to improve people’s lives. He was a passionate and dedicated public servant whose countless contributions made our state and our country better,” he said.
I have ordered Maryland flags to fly at half-staff to honor the life and legacy of Congressman Elijah Cummings. We extend our deepest sympathies to his friends, family, and colleagues. pic.twitter.com/K1gKf06COB
— Governor Larry Hogan (@GovLarryHogan) October 17, 2019
The Chesapeake Bay Foundation called him a “towering force for good,” and “a champion of truth and justice for all”, citing him a great friend and defender of the Chesapeake Bay.
Maryland Congressman Jamie Raskin got to the core of what Cummings’ years of public service meant to the people of Maryland.
“For Elijah, it was always about the children- the messengers we send to a future we won’t see. So we must redouble and expand our work in his honor. I will miss him every day,” Raskin said in part.
Rep. Andy Harris pushed that point, saying that he shared a strong passion with Cummings for representing their districts and the state of Maryland.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell opened the chamber Thursday by praising the late Rep. Elijah Cummings as a “living legend” and “a powerful and passionate voice with “friends and admirers all across the political spectrum.”
Sen. Chuck Schumer tweeted “Cummings was not just a great congressman, he was a great man.”
Elijah Cummings was not just a great congressman, but a great man.
He had a combination of being strong when he had to be, but also being kind and decent and caring and honorable.
I pray for his family and for the country when people like Elijah are not with us any longer. pic.twitter.com/xGnLlhIGfF
— Chuck Schumer (@SenSchumer) October 17, 2019
Rep. Adam Schiff called Cummings “the heart and soul of our caucus, a dignified leader with a voice that could move mountains.”
Elijah Cummings was the heart and soul of our caucus, a dignified leader with a voice that could move mountains.
He was our moral and ethical North Star. Now we will be guided by his powerful memory and incomparable legacy.
Rest In Peace, my friend.
— Adam Schiff (@RepAdamSchiff) October 17, 2019
President Trump’s daughter and adviser Ivanka Trump said Cummings was a “dedicated and courageous public servant.”
“A son of sharecroppers, he tirelessly championed his community and country,” she tweeted.
Rep. Elijah Cummings was a dedicated and courageous public servant. A son of sharecroppers, he tirelessly championed his community and country. May God comfort his loved ones and may he Rest In Peace.
— Ivanka Trump (@IvankaTrump) October 17, 2019
Rep. Dutch Ruppersberger said while Cummings no doubt was fighting for democracy on the national stage every day- he also never stopped fighting for Baltimore and the little man.
“When we would tour local businesses or universities or factories together, he would always stop and ask the employees how they felt. He wanted the janitor to know he was as valued as the executive. People were his priority,”