Pastor Jamal Bryant Announces Bid for Congress in Baltimore


Pastor Jamal Bryant Announces Bid for Congress in Baltimore

Arguing that Baltimore needs new leadership in Washington, the Rev. Jamal H. Bryant announced Monday that he is running for the House of Representatives seat currently held by Rep. Elijah E. Cummings.

Bryant, the dynamic 44-year-old pastor of the Empowerment Temple in Northwest Baltimore, told several dozen supporters that the city’s schools were falling short, that the middle class is shrinking, that crime is high and that, in too many instances, the police are “out of control.”

Bryant’s decision to seek the Democratic nomination in the 7th District is important in large part as a potential signal for the district’s incumbent, Cummings, who has been considering a run for retiring Sen. Barbara A. Mikulski’s seat for months.

Asked repeatedly if he would run for the House if Cummings decided to seek reelection instead, the pastor said only that he would have a conversation with Cummings in that circumstance. Bryant said he has not spoken with Cummings about his decision.

“All my indicators say he is running,” Bryant said, pointing to news reports that Cummings had hired a fundraiser who has worked on past Senate campaigns as one piece of evidence. “I represent a new generation that’s coming forward — this whole movement of activists that are emerging nationwide.”

Aides to Cummings were not immediately available for comment.

Bryant, who lives in Canton, walked a delicate balance in discussing Cummings throughout his event. The first words at his announcement were that he isn’t “opposing anyone” but rather that he is “proposing new ideas.” He repeatedly praised Cummings’ leadership, arguing that the 11-term lawmaker had “laid the groundwork” and said several times that he has great respect for him.

But he also offered veiled criticism of current leadership generally, saying at one point that “we do not need leadership that’s just going along to get along.” For instance, Bryant said in an interview that he would have opposed President Barack Obama’s nuclear agreement with Iran, a measure most Democrats — including Cummings — supported.

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