BALTIMORE (WJZ) — Thursday morning in Baltimore and across the world began with the news that U.S. Rep. Elijah Cummings had died from complications of long-term health problems.
There were condolences, remarks and much talk on social media, remembering his life and legacy of decades of service.
But the question remains: what happens when a seated member of the U.S. Congress dies in the middle of their term?
There will be a special election.
When a Maryland congressional seat becomes empty, Gov. Larry Hogan has 10 days to issue a proclamation announcing a special primary election and a special general election will be held to fill the vacancy.
“Maryland law supplies that within 10 days of the vacancy, the governor has to issue a proclamation for a special election,” Todd Eberly, of St. Mary’s College, said.
The special primary election is held on a Tuesday at least 65 days after the proclamation was put out and the special general election shall be held on a Tuesday that’s at least 65 days after the primary.
The general election District 7 includes voters in Baltimore City, Baltimore County, and Howard County, and each jurisdiction has to pay for its own election.
The special election has not been announced yet.
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
Option 2- the governor leaves the seat vacant for now and schedules the special election primary for the state’s April 28 primary.
“It would save a lot of money for the counties that are responsible,” Eberly said. “But it would mean the people in Elijah Cummings’ district would not have representation in Congress until January of 2021.”
Gov. Hogan still has several days to decide.