COLLEGE PARK – Republican Tony Salazar said he does not like to see any politician get a “free pass” to re-election, but that appears to be what Rep. Elijah Cummings will get this fall.
No one has filed to challenge the Baltimore Democrat, a five-term incumbent with almost $700,000 in the bank and wide name recognition in the heavily Democratic 7th District.
Not Salazar, Cummings’ 2004 opponent, who has opted to run for a Howard County Council seat this fall. Not Ken Kondner, a perennial Republican candidate who faced Cummings and his predecessor in five different elections.
Not anyone in the Republican or Democratic or Green parties.
“No one wants to go on a suicide mission,” said Brian Harlin, chairman of the Howard County Republican Central Committee.
Donald Farber, chairman of the Baltimore City Republican Central Committee, said “no one we had talked to was interested and no one had volunteered.”
“More or less they (Republicans) have become accustomed to the fact that they are not represented in this district,” said Farber.
The numbers support Farber: Democrats accounted for 243,160 of the district’s 352,202 registered voters in the district in 2004, outnumbering Republicans by a ratio of almost 4-to-1.
The results have been predictable. Cummings has received no less than 73 percent of the general election vote in each of his previous five races. According to his most recent filing with the Federal Election Commission, he had raised $690,544 as of June 30 and still had $393,951 on hand.
But Cummings will run a full-fledged campaign, despite the lack of a challenger, said Mike Christianson, a spokesman for Cummings’ campaign.
“The people of the 7th District deserve a campaign whether the Republicans bring a candidate forward or not,” Christianson said.
There’s another reason for Cummings to campaign, Christianson said: “There’s a problem when a single party controls everything . . . they (voters) stop listening.”
Salazar conceded that while he and Cummings may differ philosophically, the congressman is active and works hard.
“That’s why he gets re-elected,” he said.
Kondner agreed that the numbers only tell part of the story of Cummings’ success. Part of it is the incumbent’s attention to his constituents.
When his brother was shot and killed in Baltimore during the 2000 campaign, Kondner said Cummings personally extended his condolences.
“Elijah Cummings came up to me during the debate and said he was very sorry,” Kondner said.
“The Republican National Committee and the state committee never said a word,” said Kondner, who said his party “never gave me a cent” for his campaigns.
“They (the national GOP) have 435 races they are concerned about and the one in the 7th District is 436,” Kondner said. And he does not see a change in Republican fortunes against Cummings any time soon.
“I think it’s always going to be this severe,” he said.
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