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Del. Terri Hill announces a run for the late Rep. Elijah Cummings congressional seat.
Del. Terri Hill announces a run for the late Rep. Elijah Cummings congressional seat. (Baltimore Sun staff/Baltimore Sun Media Group)

State Del. Terri L. Hill, a physician from Columbia, is entering an increasingly crowded race for the congressional seat previously held by the late Rep. Elijah Cummings.

Hill, 60, who represents areas of Baltimore and Howard counties in the House of Delegates, is the first elected official from Howard to join the race. She said she will file Tuesday to run.

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“I’m a person of integrity,” said Hill, who holds degrees from Harvard and Columbia universities. “My whole life has been about service to others.”

Cummings, who had cancer, died Oct. 17 after more than two decades in Congress.

Hill is a plastic surgeon who practices in Ellicott City and Baltimore.

She has served in the House of Delegates since 2015. She is a member of the Health and Government Operations Committee, and in that role was among the lawmakers who forcefully questioned University of Maryland Medical System officials during hearings earlier this year on the self-dealing scandal involving their board of directors.

Last session, Hill was the lead sponsor on successful legislation that authorized grants for services helping seniors, mandated better reporting of sewage overflows in state waterways, and gave minors the same rights as adults to consent to treatment to prevent HIV.

She also introduced an unsuccessful bill that would have prohibited tackling in football and heading in soccer by kids in elementary and middle school.

“I really did not expect it to pass, but I think it’s a conversation we have to have and I don’t think the conversation is over,” Hill said after that bill failed.

Del. Terri Hill, Dist. 12, discusses the process of getting the trees planted in Catonsville, as Sen. Clarence Lam listens.
Del. Terri Hill, Dist. 12, discusses the process of getting the trees planted in Catonsville, as Sen. Clarence Lam listens. (Phil Grout/Baltimore Sun Media/Baltimore Sun Media Group)

If elected to Congress, Hill said, she would focus on a range of issues, including health care, social justice and immigration reform.

“We’ve got to do everything we can to control those escalating costs,” she said of the American health care system.

Maryland’s congressional delegation is all male and mostly white. Hill is among several prominent black women to enter the field for Cummings’ 7th District seat.

Among the Democrats running are former Maryland Democratic Party Chairwoman Maya Rockeymoore Cummings, the congressman’s widow; former national NAACP President Kweisi Mfume; and state House Majority Whip Talmadge Branch of Baltimore. Democratic state Sen. Jill P. Carter of Baltimore also plans to kick off her campaign Tuesday.

Others who considered running have ruled themselves out, including former Democratic Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake, Democratic state Sen. Cory V. McCray of Baltimore and Howard County Executive Calvin Ball, also a Democrat.

Candidates must file by Wednesday to run in a special Feb. 4 primary in the district, which includes parts of the city of Baltimore and areas of Baltimore and Howard counties. The special election will be held April 28, the same day as a regular primary for all of Maryland’s U.S. House seats, with early voting starting April 16.

Candidates who want to fill Cummings’ seat through the rest of his term, until January 2021, and win the seat for the next two years after that, must run in both the special and regular elections.

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So far, 12 Democrats and four Republicans have formally filed to run in the special election.

“We’ve got excellent candidates and that’s fortunate,” Hill said. “We’ve got people who come with varying qualifications. I bring experience and really unique qualifications that the voters will find of value. I’m running on the strength of my qualifications.”

The district’s voters are 68% Democratic, with just 16% Republican voters and the rest unaffiliated or belonging to third parties, making it difficult for any candidate who is not a Democrat to win the seat.

About 42% of the general election voters in the 7th Congressional District live in Baltimore, while 30% live in Baltimore County and 28% in Howard County.

In the Democratic primary, about 55% of voters live in Baltimore, while 25% are from Baltimore County and 20% from Howard County.

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