Rep. Elijah E. Cummings endorsed state Sen Catherine E. Pugh for Baltimore mayor Tuesday, saying she is "experienced, she is prepared, she is knowledgeable."
Cummings highlighted Pugh's work in establishing the Baltimore Design School, securing summer jobs for the city's youth and the time the two spent walking the streets to bring calm amid the unrest last April.
"We're at a crossroads, and we have got to have leadership that will bring us together," Cummings said at Pugh's campaign headquarters in Mid-Town Belvedere.
"I am convinced that Catherine Pugh will bring us together and work hard to make sure that every single one of us reaches our God-given destiny. She understands that our diversity is not our problem. It is our promise."
Pugh, 66, is one of 13 Democrats seeking the party's nomination in the April 26 primary to replace Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake, who is not seeking re-election. A recent poll by The Baltimore Sun and the University of Baltimore showed Pugh leading the group.
Pugh had 31 percent with former Mayor Sheila Dixon in second with 25 percent.
Cummings' endorsement was seen as highly coveted in the mayoral race. His popularity rose last year as a result of his public response to the unrest last April and his defense of presidential candidate Hillary Clinton during a lengthy congressional hearing on her role in the 2012 attacks on the U.S. diplomatic compound in Benghazi.
"This is not about the next election. This is about the next generation," said Cummings, who is seeking re-election to the House. He has served in Congress for 11 terms.
Pugh told Cummings he could count on her to be a partner with him in bringing change to Baltimore. She pledged to rebuild struggling neighborhoods and work to find jobs for the city's unemployed.
"When we lift the least of us, we lift all of us," Pugh said. "I see the glass as half full, as opposed to half empty. I believe that the role of a mayor is to build on where you are and to push the city forward."
Cummings recalled an encounter during the unrest last April. He said he and Pugh were at the corner of Pennsylvania and North avenues when a young man came up and told them he felt like "every day I am laying in my coffin trying to crawl my way out."
Pugh, Cummings said, embraced the young man and told him she loved him.
"It's one thing to care," he said. "It's another thing to be prepared to do something about it."