Several candidates for the 7th Congressional District seat formerly held by the late Rep. Elijah Cummings debate at Soul Harvest Church-Ministries.
Democratic candidates for Baltimore’s vacant 7th Congressional District seat sought to separate themselves from a crowded field during a debate in which criminal justice played a leading role — and provoked one of the evening’s rare disagreements.
The event, at Soul Harvest Baptist Church in West Baltimore, was billed by organizers as the first and perhaps only debate of the campaign to succeed the late U.S. Rep. Elijah Cummings. A number of forums and town halls have also been held.
Ten candidates were asked questions by a four-person panel, and the audience of about 150 people submitted questions as well.
The candidates were seated together on a stage and were so close together that their elbows were practically touching.
“I’ve never been more concerned,” Higginbotham said.
Some candidates, such as community activist Saafir Rabb, have proposed broad-based measures on crime prevention and other problems facing the city. Rabb says he has helped “thousands of people” recover from addiction through a program he helped lead.
The Mfume-Carter exchange was a rare moment in which the candidates aimed barbs at one another. More often, the candidates spoke of their own experience and expertise.
Some of the toughest questions were posed by audience members.
Maya Rockeymoore Cummings, the former state Democratic chairwoman and widow of the late congressman, was asked about the support of Elijah Cummings’ daughters for another candidate.
Mfume, as he has before, said he made a mistake dating a woman as a manager in a work setting.
“I was a single man,” he said. But he added: “I shouldn’t have done it.”
Mfume was still delivering his response when he was cut off and told his allotted time was up.
“I’m right in the middle of a sentence,” Mfume said.
The debate was organized by Hassan Giordano, a communications consultant and political strategist. It was to be streamed on the Facebook page of his DMVDaily.news site and also streamed at valuemyvote2020.com.
There are 32 candidates in the race — 24 Democrats and eight Republicans.
Giordano said he selected seven Democrats to participate who received the most votes in an informal online survey.
But three more candidates ended up participating. That was because three candidates who are state lawmakers — Carter, Del. Terri Hill and House Majority Whip Talmadge Branch — left early because the General Assembly was conducting business Monday night.
Carter joked that she hoped the audience wouldn’t “hold it against” her that she departed before the more than two-hour debate was over.