Rep. Elijah E. Cummings’ (D-Md.) passing in October 2019 was a watershed moment for America.
Constitutional principles and norms at the time of Cummings’ passing then and today are routinely tested and trashed by a presidential administration that views morality as a punch line all the while courting the “religious right” and third-rate, amoral Fox News sleazes to fill an administration that only partisan hacks and obsequious shills are willing to serve.
The longtime Maryland congressman at the time of his passing was the chairman of the House Oversight Committee, tasked with investigating President Donald J. Trump’s – where to even begin the investigation? – ethical lapses and flagrantly obvious criminal activities.
That wasn’t all.
Mr. Cummings and his House committee were responsible for upholding the very morality of a nation set forth in both our Constitution and the Federalist Papers, which are, on the daily, ignored by a vituperative self-aggrandizing sociopathic dimwit.
Mr. Cummings, it should be said, was not a perfect man; like all of us, he, too, was flawed. Many of the late congressman’s constituents are suffering from institutional poverty, unemployment and widespread injustices.
Mr. Cummings did his absolute best for over 20 years, but there are still plenty of problems that plague the 7th District. He will indelibly be remembered for having his finger on the pulse of a nation yearning for morality and justice for all – blind justice, to be precise.
Mr. Cummings, who died too young at 68, without question, will be a tough act to follow. Filling Elijah Cummings’ vacant seat will certainly not be easy, no matter who voters nominate.
Most candidates running in Tuesday’s special election understand the larger-than-life gap that Cummings’ death leaves – both in Maryland and the entire United States Congress.
Forward, though, Maryland must move.
While voters have a large pool of candidates to choose from, State Sen. Jill P. Carter (D-Baltimore City) stands out among the crowd.
A ferociously fearless proud woman of color, the daughter of a civil rights icon, a talented attorney, a public servant and an unabashedly unafraid Machine-busting independent who long ago detached herself from the mechanics of the establishment Democratic stronghold, Carter is the requisite leader befitting of the times.
The proverbial 6000-pound elephant in the room should not be ignored: Maryland’s congressional delegation is entirely male and mostly white. Democrats, especially, are prone to mixing their conversations with phrases that include “diversity” and “inclusion.”
But when it comes time to put up or shut up, Democrats – not just in Maryland – often fall short. The astounding number of highly qualified women passed over by progressive voters (see Aruna Miller in 2018) is enough to make you question whether the Democratic Party is true to its principles of a more diverse America.
At a time when Baltimore City is under extreme duress – weekly shootings and failed schools, substance abuse, rampant criminal activity, collapsing public infrastructure, back-to-back corruption scandals, sickening political malfeasance – Carter can use her position in Congress to call out the pandemic bullshit infecting her home town, lending a helping policy hand to vulnerable City residents.
Carter is unafraid of sticking it to the powers that be: These are the same failed political lords worshiped by the Annapolis and Baltimore City power brokers, the same worn political bosses who tried and failed to prevent the 55-year-old disrupter from snatching a state Senate seat from the hands of the former Maryland governor’s son-in-law and even going so far as to back a disgraced former senator whose mail is now forwarded to a federal prison mailbox.
At a time when Baltimore City needs a fighter, Carter is ready for a boxing match.
She took the lead on legislation to end contracts between the University of Maryland Medical System and its board members, who seemingly and frequently find conflict at almost every turn.
Carter methodically and brazenly took on former Baltimore City Mayor-turned Governor Martin O’Malley over his zero-tolerance policies that resulted in thousands of unnecessary arrests and subsequent criminal convictions, placing African-American women and men disproportionately at yet another disadvantage with respect to employment.
And it was Jill P. Carter who recognized O’Malley’s policies caused an unnecessary rift between community members and the Baltimore City Police – and she didn’t sit on the sidelines.
Carter hasn’t run a consultant-heavy campaign, unlike Cummings’ widow, Dr. Maya Rockeymoore Cummings, who is perfectly credentialed to succeed her husband but nonetheless lacks the necessary clout and longstanding attachment within the Baltimore community.
Whether anyone is willing to admit it, A Miner Detail will: It speaks volumes Rockeymoore Cummings has received zero support from her late husband’s family members, including Mr. Cummings’ two daughters, who endorsed Harry Spikes, another worthy candidate in this race who served Cummings well as a longtime congressional aide.
While Ms. Carter is running a robust grassroots, door-to-door, in-the-street scrappy upstart campaign, staffed by dozens upon dozens of faithful and dedicated volunteers with limited financial resources, it appears that Dr. Cummings would rather spend her time with Joy Behar and Meghan McCain of The View and other national media celebrities than expend one-on-one efforts with voters in a district that stretches across three Maryland counties.
Moreover, it was Carter who has availed herself to local Maryland media throughout this congressional special election, including two one-hour appearances on A Miner Detail Podcast, whereas some of the other Democratic candidates outright blew off invitations or claimed they had no time to participate in an opportunity to speak to thousands of 7th District voters.
(It is worth noting that Carter’s two appearances on A Miner Detail Podcast amassed more than 20,000 downloads.)
One other Democratic special election contender deserves an honorable mention: Former Rep. Kweisi Mfume (D-Md.), who preceded Cummings in Congress, holding the seat from 1987 to 1996.
Mfume has residual name recognition and unchallenged national stature. His name identification stretches leaps and bounds beyond Jill Carter’s, and he has the ability to resonate throughout much of Baltimore and Howard Counties.
A former congressman and a former NAACP chief, Mfume, 71, has overcome his own self-created personal adversities in a respectable and dignified manner. Mfume would be a reliable voice for the 7th District; voters know him, they like him and they admire his tenacity and statesmanlike demeanor.
Mfume is, moreover, a longtime public servant with a firm grasp of the rigors of being a member of Congress, and he fundamentally understands the practical side of legislating.
7th District voters have a choice to make on Feb. 4.
State Sen. Jill P. Carter is a proven leader, a consummate legislator and the advocate Baltimore City needs in this pivotal moment in history.