Del. Elijah E. Cummings, a West Baltimore legislator who is among the front-runners for Rep. Kweisi Mfume's 7th District congressional seat, picked up two more key endorsements yesterday, with a little more than two weeks to go until the March 5 primary election.
The Baltimore Building and Construction Trades Council, an umbrella organization representing 17 labor unions, threw its support behind Mr. Cummings, the Maryland House speaker pro-tem.
Maryland Senate Majority Leader Clarence W. Blount, a West Baltimore Democrat who is dean of the city's legislative delegation, also formally endorsed Mr. Cummings yesterday, pledging the support of his political organization, the Five in Five Democratic Club.
Meanwhile, A. Dwight Pettit, a West Baltimore lawyer who is also viewed as a strong Democratic candidate, was endorsed by 4th District City Councilman Keiffer J. Mitchell Jr. and Bea Gaddy, an East Baltimore advocate for the hungry and homeless.
Mr. Mitchell, grand-nephew of former 7th District Rep. Parren J. Mitchell, and Ms. Gaddy have taped radio advertisements for Mr. Pettit, a campaign spokeswoman said.
Mr. Cummings said that "as the son of a union man, I am gratified that the building and trade unions have looked at my record and that of the other candidates and said without equivocation that this is a man who has stood up for working people."
State organized labor split last month over which of the candidates in the 7th District race to back, deciding instead not to endorse anyone in the primary. That freed the more than 200 unions in the Baltimore area to support any of the 27 Democrats and five Republicans running.
Labor has weighed in with a couple of other candidate endorsements this week.
The Rev. Frank M. Reid III, pastor of Bethel African Methodist Episcopal Church, was endorsed by a coalition of labor unions representing more than 30,000 area blue-collar workers. And State Sen. Delores G. Kelley of Baltimore County won the backing of the Maryland State Teachers Association.
The labor endorsements mean that candidates will receive financial support from the unions' political action committees and individual members, and benefit from additional mailings, phone banks and Election Day workers.