Baltimore Democratic Rep. Kweisi Mfume won his bid for a new U.S. House term Tuesday against Republican Kimberly Klacik, who raised $7 million after President Donald Trump shared her campaign video.
After winning an April special election, Mfume, 72, held on to Maryland’s 7th District, long represented by his late friend Elijah Cummings — and by Mfume for 10 years before that. Klacik, 38, a Republican commentator, attracted a wide conservative following after being endorsed by Trump and speaking at the Republican National Convention in August.
“We gave it our best shot! So proud of my team,” Klacik tweeted. She congratulated Mfume, adding: “Prepare to be held accountable like never before.”
Mfume addressed supporters in Baltimore, saying voters had “spoken loudly and clearly” and that he would be an “independent voice.”
Maryland’s other seven U.S. House members — all men — won new terms. All are Democrats except Republican Andy Harris, whose 1st District includes the Eastern Shore and parts of Baltimore, Carroll and Harford counties.
Harris, seeking a sixth term, defeated Mia Mason, a military veteran and transgender activist.
In other races, ninth-term Democratic Rep. C.A. Dutch Ruppersberger of Baltimore County defeated Republican state Sen. Johnny Ray Salling in the 2nd District; and John Sarbanes, a seventh-term Baltimore County Democrat, beat Republican Charles Anthony, a retired hospital administrator, in the 3rd District.
The last Maryland congressman to lose reelection was Republican Roscoe Bartlett of Frederick County in 2012 — and he was defeated only after his district was redrawn by Democrats in Annapolis to include more Democratic voters.
Sarbanes said more competitive congressional elections would help citizens hold incumbents accountable.
“I think we want to promote competition wherever we can,” said Sarbanes, who has sponsored legislation allowing public matching funds of federal candidates' small donations to minimize the role of big money in elections.
Nationally, House members' reelection rate in 2018 was 91% — and it was 97% in the congressional election before that.
Most of the congressional challengers in Maryland could not keep pace with the incumbents' campaign fundraising.
Klacik was the exception.
According to reports filed with the Federal Election Commission, she raised $6.4 million from July 1 through Sept. 30, then netted another $614,000 in the following two weeks.
Klacik became known nationally after Trump promoted a campaign video in which she walked along Baltimore streets full of vacant homes and asserted that Democratic politicians have done nothing good for Baltimore and other cities. Klacik sometimes wore a “Make Baltimore Great Again” ball cap, a nod to Trump’s “Make America Great Again” slogan.
Her total of $7.4 million raised during the two-year campaign is 8.5 times Mfume’s $861,368.
Mfume said in a statement during the campaign that Klacik and Trump “cannot buy” the district, which he said “belongs to the people.” He has criticized Trump’s handling of the coronavirus pandemic, saying he would promote the use of “science, data and common sense.”
The district, in which Democrats hold a 4-1 voter registration advantage, includes parts of Baltimore City, Baltimore County and Howard County.
Baltimore born and raised, the well-known Mfume held the 7th District seat until 1996 when he left to become president of the NAACP.
Cummings then held the seat until his death from a rare form of cancer in October 2019.
Mfume overwhelmingly defeated Klacik in the special election to fill the remainder of Cummings' term. Tuesday’s election was for a new, two-year term beginning in January.
In other races, Democratic Rep. David Trone defeated state Del. Neil Parrott in the 6th; and Democratic Rep. Jamie Raskin prevailed over Gregory Coll in the 8th.
House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, a Southern Maryland Democrat, defeated Chris Palombi in the 5th District, and Democratic Rep. Anthony Brown defeated George E. McDermott in the 4th.