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Former NAACP president to run for his old seat in Congress after Elijah Cummings' death

Obama speaks at Elijah Cummings's funeral

Kweisi Mfume, the former president of the NAACP, has entered the race to fill the seat left vacant by the death of Congressman Elijah Cummings.

Mfume announced his candidacy on Monday at the Reginald F. Lewis Museum in Baltimore. He said Cummings' death spurred him into action.

"A month ago, I would have never imagined that I would be before you this afternoon in this capacity," Mfume said in a speech posted on his Facebook page. "Today we're here without Elijah, but his memory and his spirit to fight on is alive and flourishing, it is out of that unpredictable reality that I stand before you."

Cummings died October 17 at the age of 68. He won his seat in Congress after it was vacated by Mfume, who resigned to lead the NAACP.

Mfume was first elected to political office in 1978 when he won a seat on the city council in Baltimore, where he was born and raised. He later served five terms as a member of the U.S. House of Representatives. 

Marcus Garvey's Son Calls For Posthumous Presidential Pardon Of His Father
Former NAACP President and CEO Kweisi Mfume speaks at a news conference on what would have been the 129th birthday of prominent Pan-Africanism movement advocate Marcus Garvey at the National Press Club August 17, 2016 in Washington, D.C. Alex Wong / Getty Images

Candidates have until November 20 to enter the special election, which will be held April 28 — the same day as Maryland's presidential primary. The special primary will be February 4.

Other Democrats have already thrown their ring in the hat, including Mark Gosnell, a doctor; Maryland Delegate Talmadge Branch, who was the chairman of the state's Legislative Black Caucus; and Saafir Rabb, a community activist.

Some expect Cummings' widow to run. Maya Rockeymoore Cummings is chair of the state's Democratic Party and has run for office before. In 2017, she sought to unseat Maryland Governor Larry Hogan but dropped out of the race when her husband was hospitalized. She said she would make an announcement "very soon."

The district is overwhelmingly Democratic, but at least one Republican — Liz Matory, a business owner and author of a book called "Born Again Republican" — has joined the race. 

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