Kimberly Klacik, whose videos of trash-strewn West Baltimore alleys and criticisms of Rep. Elijah Cummings spurred President Donald Trump to tweet that Maryland’s 7th Congressional District is “disgusting,” won the Republican nomination to represent the district in a special primary election Tuesday.
She will face the Democratic primary winner, former Rep. Kweisi Mfume, in April to determine who will fill a seat Cummings held from 1996 until his death in October. The same day, Klacik could face another challenge in a regular primary election for the term that starts in January 2021.
A Republican has never represented the state’s 7th District, which includes much of Baltimore and parts of Baltimore and Howard counties.
Klacik defeated Liz Matory, a Baltimore County resident who ran against Rep. C.A. “Dutch” Ruppersberger two years ago, Reba A. Hawkins, a North Baltimore resident who stressed a need to invest in the city, and five other candidates.
Some Republican voters acknowledged there was little incentive for them to come to the polls Tuesday, considering that more than 80% of active voters in the 7th District are registered Democrats. Maryland primary elections are closed, meaning voters can only participate in primaries held by the political party of which they are registered members.
There are about 76,000 active Republican voters in the 7th District, about 19% of all active registered voters there. Most of them are divided evenly between Baltimore and Howard counties; fewer than 10,000 live in Baltimore City.
In voting for Hawkins, Howard County resident Joe Comberiate said he believes it’s difficult for his views to be represented in Congress because of the way districts have been gerrymandered.
“I was trying to decide whether or not to vote today,” the 38-year-old said. “I think it’s just important for people to vote because if you don’t vote, you’re never going to be represented in the way you’d like, even if you think your vote might not make a difference.”
Klacik gained notoriety in July after appearing on Fox News to discuss videos she posted on social media showing trash and blight in Cummings’ district. Trump soon tweeted scathing criticism of Cummings, who was helping to lead the investigation that eventually led to Trump’s impeachment, and of the district, calling Cummings “a brutal bully” to Border Patrol agents and saying West Baltimore was more dangerous than border towns and is “infested” with rats.
A 37-year-old Middle River resident, Klacik founded a nonprofit in 2013 called Potential Me, focused on workforce development for disadvantaged women, and says she has helped 200 women get jobs. She is a native of Accokeek, in Prince George’s County, and attended Bowie State University, but said she dropped out after being bullied over a medical condition called alopecia that caused her hair to fall out at age 15. Klacik went on to compete in beauty pageants, and had planned to become a broadcast journalist but then shifted to politics.
She said she supports providing free birth control, helping to prevent abortions, and allowing individuals permitted to carry concealed firearms in one state to do so in other states with concealed carry laws. She also supports imposing term limits on members of Congress.
And on her website, she said she plans to “end socialism” in the 7th district, which she describes as "massive amounts of money paid (by you the taxpayer) into government coffers controlled entirely by bureaucrats.
“These bureaucrats with the support of complicit elected officials empower themselves with control over every aspect of your life," she wrote. "They then spend vast resources on themselves and neglect your basic needs forcing you to adopt to their ideology or move.”
Klacik could not immediately be reached for comment Tuesday night.
The special general election to determine who will serve out the remainder of Cummings’ term will be held April 28, the same day as Maryland’s regularly scheduled primary election. The general election is Nov. 3.
Baltimore Sun Media Group reporters Wilborn Nobles and Ana Faguy and the Associated Press contributed to this article.