BALTIMORE (WJZ) — Former NAACP leader Kweisi Mfume won the Democratic special primary for Maryland congressional seat held by Elijah Cummings. Conservative commentator Kimberly Klacik won the GOP special primary in Maryland for the congressional seat that was held by the late Elijah Cummings.

The two will face off in a special general election on April 28, 2020.

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The special primary election will help decide the nominees who will fill the seat representing Maryland’s 7th Congressional District through Jan. 3, 2021. Polls closed at 8 p.m. in parts of Baltimore City, Baltimore County and Howard County,  It was the only race on the ballot.

Twenty-four Democrats and eight Republicans are vying for the 7th Congressional District Seat held by Cummings, who died unexpectedly in October.

Tens of thousands of voters turned up to cast their ballots. The state board of elections reported 59,336 voters had been cast as of 5 p.m.

In Baltimore City, 21,076 had voted as of 3:41 p.m., the city’s Board of Elections said.

 

Many of the candidates had already voted and are spending the rest of the day trying to get their supporters to the polls.

Maya Rockeymoore Cummings cast her vote Tuesday morning near her home in west Baltimore.

“Elijah was a fierce defender of democracy, and this is what democracy is all about,” Rockeymoore Cummings said.

Her late husband’s name has been a constant throughout the campaign to fill his seat, among many of the candidates vying to replace him.

“This is about continuing his legacy and building upon it,” she said.

Mfume was hoping voters send him back to Congress. Cummings replaced him when Mfume left to lead the NAACP in 1996.

“I’ve always trusted voters, no matter what they do, so I will trust them again today,” Mfume said.

Jill Carter also voted first thing Tuesday, like more than 20 other candidates. She touted weekend endorsements from the Baltimore Sun and former NAACP President Ben Jealous.

“In part, because I’m the true progressive in this race because that’s what we need to take us into the future,” Carter said.

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Maryland is a closed primary, so people are required to vote in the primary for the party in which they are registered.

WJZ’s Rachel Menitoff was outside Clarksville Elementary School in Ellicott City, where Republican hopeful James Arnold was greeting voters coming through the polling station.

Even though it’s a largely Democratic district, many of the Republican hopefuls said they’re hoping that voters look past party lines and instead focus on their individual qualifications.

A Republican candidate has never won in the 7th district, so these eight candidates are trying to change that.

Among the eight on today’s ballot are community activist and longtime 7th district resident, Reba Hawkins, as well as non-profit founder Klacik, who received national recognition in 2019 when her social media posts of trash in west Baltimore went viral, and small business owner James Arnold.

The winners will run in a special general election on April 28 to serve through Jan. 3, 2021, and whoever wins the special election will have to stand for reelection in November to keep the seat.

WJZ’s Rachel Menitoff and Paul Gessler contributed to this report.

Rachel Menitoff

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