BALTIMORE (WJZ) — The Associated Press has declared Democrat Kweisi Mfume the winner of the special election in Maryland’s 7th congressional district.
With 40 percent of the vote in, Mfume has just over 62 percent of the vote in Baltimore County and just over 59 percent in Howard County. He earned nearly unanimous support — just over 94 percent — in Baltimore City. Republican Kimberly Klacik has just under 38 percent of the vote in Baltimore County and just under 41 percent in Howard County.
Overall, Mfume has 73 percent of the vote compared to Klacik’s 27 percent.
Mfume, who held the seat prior to the late Rep. Elijah Cummings, said his first order of business is helping people through this dark time during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“I promise you that as your congressman, I will use every ability that I have to bring about that change,” he said in his victory speech.
Due to the coronavirus, the majority of voting was conducted by mail, officials reported.
Ballots that were postmarked by Tuesday will be counted, but they will be quarantined for 24 hours after being received to protect election workers. It’s not immediately clear when the final results will be posted.
In total, the state sent out more than 482,000 ballots.
COVID-19 was a significant barrier to campaigning, Klacik said.
“It’s been difficult, it’s been different because I’m more of an ‘in your face’ kind of person, I like to meet people one-on-one,” she said.
While three in-person voting sites were open, fewer than 1,000 people voted in-person as of 6:20 p.m. Meanwhile, the state reported receiving more than 110,000 mail-in ballots, and more will continue to come in over the coming days.
At Martin’s West, the sole in-person voting site in Baltimore County, voter Sharon Lee said she preferred the certainty of voting in-person over mailing in her ballot.
“I felt like my vote would be counted,” she said. “If I mailed it in, it may get misplaced in the mail or not get counted so I know if I do it personally, it’s done.”
Kenneth Brown, who worked on Mfume’s campaign, said the coronavirus made this one something quite different.
“I work a lot of campaigns, been involved in a lot of campaigns, and in my lifetime this is different,” he said. “Who knows where it goes from here? Is this the new norm?”
Mfume will now run as the incumbent in the state’s crowded June 2 primary election.