Congressman Elijah Cummings had visibly slowed down by last August 2019, when he spoke at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C. (Amy Davis/The Baltimore Sun/TNS)

By Luke Broadwater The Baltimore Sun (TNS)

BALTIMORE — The Baltimore County Republican official whose social media posts about trash in West Baltimore prompted President Donald Trump to verbally attack the late Rep. Elijah Cummings says she’s running for Cummings’ former seat in Congress.

Kimberly Klacik, 37, who runs a nonprofit and is a member of a county Republican Central Committee, said she will file next week for the special election in the 7th Congressional District, a seat Cummings held for more than two decades.

Cummings, who had cancer, died Oct. 17.

“I am throwing my hat in the race for the 7th Congressional District,” Klacik said in an interview. “I’ve seen firsthand what a lot of people are going through. Our violent crime is up 52% in Baltimore County and it’s rising in Baltimore City, too. I don’t think it’s a coincidence.”

Klacik lives in Middle River, which is not in the 7th District, but she said she’ll move to West Baltimore if elected. The law only requires a congressional candidate to live in the state; they do not need to live in the district they seek to represent.

Klacik gained attention in July when she posted videos to social media of blight and trash in West Baltimore. Her postings caught the eye of Fox News, which showed them, and then Trump, who launched a blistering attack against Cummings. That kicked off a weeklong war of words between the Republican president and boosters of deep blue Baltimore.

Klacik has participated in several cleanup events in the district since then.

“Talking to residents about rats and infrastructure and vacant homes, there’s so much that can be done,” Klacik said.

Three Republican candidates have already filed for the special election to fill the seat, including Liz Matory, who in 2018 sought the 2nd Congressional District seat held by C.A. Dutch Ruppersberger. Republican Chris Anderson said he would announce the start of his campaign Monday in Baltimore.

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.

On the Democratic side, former congressman and NAACP President Kweisi Mfume and state Del. Talmadge Branch have announced campaigns for the office. State Sen. Jill P. Carter has formed an exploratory committee and is holding fundraising events. Maya Rockeymoore Cummings, Cummings’ widow and chairwoman of the Maryland Democratic Party, and former Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake are among others who have said they are considering running.

Eight other Democrats have formally filed to run.

There’s a deadline of Nov. 20 to file to run in a special primary Feb. 4 in the district, which includes parts of the city of Baltimore and the counties of Baltimore and Howard. After the special primary, a special general election will be held April 28, with early voting beginning April 16. The winner of that election will fill the remainder of Cummings’ term, which runs into January 2021.

April 28 also is the date of Maryland’s regular primary election for candidates for Congress from all eight districts in the state; winners will go on to compete in November for two-year terms that begin in January 2021.

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