Kweisi Mfume Returns To Congress, Serving Rest Of The Late Rep. Cummings Term Voters return Kweisi Mfume to the seat he held for five terms; he was replaced by the late Elijah Cummings in 1996.
NPR logo Kweisi Mfume Wins Special Election To Fill Elijah Cummings' Seat In Congress

Kweisi Mfume Wins Special Election To Fill Elijah Cummings' Seat In Congress

Former Rep. Kweisi Mfume won a special election in Maryland and will return to the congressional seat he last held in 1996. He is pictured here after speaking during a service at a church in Windsor Mill in December. Will Newton/The Washington Post via Getty Images hide caption

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Will Newton/The Washington Post via Getty Images

Former Rep. Kweisi Mfume won a special election in Maryland and will return to the congressional seat he last held in 1996. He is pictured here after speaking during a service at a church in Windsor Mill in December.

Will Newton/The Washington Post via Getty Images

Democrat Kweisi Mfume, the former president of the NAACP, cruised to victory in a special election for Maryland's vacant congressional seat, which was formerly held by the late Rep. Elijah Cummings.

Mfume, 71, will serve out the remainder of Cummings' term, which ends Jan. 3. He also wants a full two-year team and is on the ballot for the state's June primary.

Serving in Congress will not be a new experience for Mfume. He represented Maryland's 7th Congressional District for five terms beginning in 1987.

In a stunning bit of political symmetry, Mfume left office before his term ended in 1996 to head the Baltimore-based NAACP. It was Cummings, a close friend, who won a special election that year to succeed Mfume.

Cummings, a fierce champion of his majority black and heavily Democratic district, which includes a majority of inner-city Baltimore and the surrounding suburbs, served in that seat until he died from longstanding health issues in October. He was 68.

Mfume spoke at Cummings' funeral, which was broadcast on C-SPAN. Other eulogies came from former Presidents Barack Obama and Bill Clinton, as well as Cummings' widow, Maya Rockeymoore Cummings — whom Mfume defeated in the Democratic primary for the special election.

Over Cummings' nearly quarter-century congressional career, he rose to become the chair of the powerful House Committee on Oversight and Reform. In that role, Cummings repeatedly sparred with the Trump administration over its defiance of the committee's subpoenas and documents requests.

Democrat Kweisi Mfume removes a face mask before addressing reporters during an election night news conference after he won the 7th Congressional District special election, Tuesday. Julio Cortez/AP hide caption

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Julio Cortez/AP

Democrat Kweisi Mfume removes a face mask before addressing reporters during an election night news conference after he won the 7th Congressional District special election, Tuesday.

Julio Cortez/AP

Mfume received about three-quarters of the vote Tuesday, according to preliminary vote totals, easily outpacing his Republican challenger, conservative commentator and activist Kimberly Klacik, as Baltimore member station WYPR reports.

This is Maryland's first election since the coronavirus outbreak. And as the The Baltimore Sun reports, Mfume won largely on the strength of a vote-by-mail contest.

Mfume addressed families of COVID-19 victims after his victory, saying the virus has "all my focus," the newspaper reports.

"I want all of you to know that from Day 1, all of my attention, all of my energy, and all of my focus in the U.S. Congress will be about using science, data and common sense to get through this dark hour in our nation's history," Mfume said.