HIS BACKGROUND suggested that Elijah E. Cummings would be a good choice to succeed Kweisi Mfume as the congressman from Maryland's 7th District, and he has not disappointed. Elected in April to complete the remainder of Mr. Mfume's term after the incumbent resigned to take over
leadership of the NAACP, Mr. Cummings hasn't used the time merely to acclimate himself to the national legislature.
He quickly educated himself on major issues in Congress and has spoken out when necessary to represent the views of his largely inner-city district. Mr. Cummings, for example, was among the first in Congress to call for an investigation of disputed allegations of a CIA role in the rising use of crack cocaine.
Since April, he has served on the Transportation Committee and expects to be appointed to its subcommittee on surface transportation in January. That's an important post as Congress deals with issues affecting Baltimore as both a seaport and railroad town. As a state legislator, Mr. Cummings worked closely with Maryland transportation officials and can voice their concerns in the hallways of Congress.
His Republican challenger for a full term in Congress is Kenneth Kondner, 54, of Woodlawn, whose company makes orthodontic devices. Mr. Kondner deserves credit for helping to keep his party's name on the ballot in this overwhelmingly Democratic district. He has run for Congress three times before. But his past defeats by overwhelming margins are an indication of the inability of his party to generate much interest. Voters in the 7th District simply don't seem to care for such a conservative approach.
Mr. Cummings lives in the inner-city and can take that perspective with him as Congress makes decisions on crime, drugs, welfare reform and health care. While his views follow the liberal wing of the Democratic Party, his experience in the General Assembly taught him the importance of bipartisanship. Mr. Cummings says the people elected him to work with Republicans and Democrats, and that is what he will do. He has earned a full term.
Pub Date: 11/02/96