Citing Baltimore’s unrest and desire to do more, Pastor Jamal Bryant announces campaign for U.S. Congress.
The Rev. Jamal H. Bryant, an influential pastor of a Baltimore mega-church, said Monday he will run for the U.S. House seat held by Rep. Elijah E. Cummings, arguing that the city needs new leadership in Washington.
Bryant, a 44-year-old Democrat and pastor at the Empowerment Temple in Northwest Baltimore, told several dozen supporters gathered in Bolton Hill that city schools are falling short, the middle class is shrinking, crime is high and, in too many instances, the police are “out of control.”
But the dynamic preacher, who said he leads a congregation of 12,000, offered a mixed message on Cummings, an 11-term incumbent who is considering a run for Senate. Bryant would not commit to challenge Cummings should the lawmaker seek re-election.
“I represent a new generation that’s coming forward, this whole movement of activists that are emerging nationwide,” Bryant said. “I think that [Cummings] has laid a tremendous foundation of success to build on.”
Bryant was asked repeatedly if he would still run for the House if Cummings decides to seek re-election to the 7th Congressional District. The pastor would say only that he’d have a conversation with Cummings if that happened.
Bryant said “all of my indicators” and “my intel” say Cummings is running for Senate. But he added that he had not spoken with Cummings about his decision to seek the House seat.
Cummings, 64, held a news conference hours later at Coppin State University to say he has not made up his mind. The top-ranking Democrat on the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee said he has no plans to do so for several weeks.
Cummings sent a statement earlier Monday to make that same point — that he hasn’t made a decision — under letterhead that referenced the “campaign to re-elect” Cummings to the House.
“Anybody who assumes that I will not be running for the 7th Congressional District of Maryland is making a definite, premature assumption,” Cummings said. “I’m going to do what I have to do, no matter what.”
Cummings has long been considered a formidable potential candidate in the race to replace Sen. Barbara A. Mikulski, who will retire in 2017. Polls show that he is well-known statewide, extremely popular in the Baltimore region and that his support transcends racial lines.
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