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Biography Elijah Cummings

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Elijah Cummings Elijah Cummings
Elijah Cummings
The U.S. Representative for Maryland's 7th congressional district, serving since 1996.


Elijah Cummings Biography



Elijah Eugene Cummings (born January 18, 1951) is the U.S. Representative for Maryland's 7th congressional district, serving since 1996. He is a member of the Democratic Party. The district includes just over half of Baltimore City, as well as most of Howard County. He previously served in the Maryland House of Delegates.


Early life, education and career

Cummings was born in Baltimore and graduated with honors from Baltimore City College in 1969. He later attended Howard University in Washington, D.C., where he served in student government as sophomore class president, Student Government treasurer and later Student Government President. He became a member of the Phi Beta Kappa Society and graduated in 1973 with a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science.

Cummings attended law school at the University of Maryland, Baltimore, graduating in 1976 and entering the Maryland Bar in December 1976. He practiced law for 19 years before first being elected to the House in the 1996 elections.

For 16 years, Cummings served in the Maryland House of Delegates. In the Maryland General Assembly, he served as Chairman of the Legislative Black Caucus of Maryland and was the first African American in Maryland history to be named Speaker pro Tempore, the second highest position in the House of Delegates.


U.S. House of Representatives

In December 2010 Edolphus Towns announced that he would not seek the position of Ranking Minority Member of the Oversight Committee in the next Congress, even though his seniority and service as Chair would typically result in him filling this post. Reportedly, Towns withdrew because of a lack of support from Nancy Pelosi who feared that he would not be a sufficiently aggressive leader of Democrats in an anticipated struggle with incoming committee chair Republican Darrell Issa. Reportedly, the White House also wanted Towns to be replaced. Cummings defeated Carolyn Maloney in a vote of the House Democratic Caucus.


Cummings is a member of the Congressional Progressive Caucus. He served as Chairman of the Congressional Black Caucus during the 108th United States Congress.

Cummings received praise and a boost in notoriety following the Congressional panel hearings on steroids in March 2005. While investigating the use of steroids in sports, the panel called numerous baseball players to testify, including former single season home run record holder Mark McGwire. After McGwire answered many questions in a vague fashion, Cummings demanded to know if he was "taking the Fifth", referring to the Fifth Amendment. McGwire responded by saying, "I am here to talk about the future, not about the past." The exchange came to epitomize the entire inquiry.


Political campaigns

Five-term Congressman Kweisi Mfume resigned in February 1996 to take the presidency of the NAACP. Cummings won a crowded seven-way Democratic primary--the real contest in this heavily Democratic, black-majority district--with 37.5 percent of the vote. In the special election, he trounced Republican Kenneth Konder. He defeated Konder again in November to win the seat in his own right. Cummings has been reelected six times since then with no substantive opposition, never dropping below 70 percent of the vote and even running unopposed in 2006. He won a seventh full term in 2008 with 79.5 percent of the vote.


Personal life

Cummings serves on numerous Maryland boards and commissions including the Board of Visitors (BOV) to the United States Naval Academy, the Baltimore Zoo Board of Trustees, the Elijah Cummings Youth Program (ECYP), the Baltimore Aquarium Board of Trustees, the Baltimore Area Council of the Boy Scouts of America Board of Directors and the Dunbar-Hopkins Health Partnership Executive Board.

In addition to his many speaking engagements, he writes a biweekly column for the Baltimore Afro-American newspaper. He currently lives in the Madison Park community in Baltimore, and is an active member of the New Psalmist Baptist Church. He was mentioned as a possible candidate in 2006 for the United States Senate seat of retiring Sen. Paul Sarbanes, but ended up endorsing Kweisi Mfume for the seat instead of running himself (see Maryland United States Senate election, 2006). He is also considered to be a possible candidate for Governor of Maryland in the future.

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