The last time the 7th congressional district suffered such a void in leadership was when former Congressman Kweisi Mfume stepped down after a great run to go work in the private sector.
There were 27 candidates in that special election and the people wisely voted for a leader with a record of delivering results. The people chose then-Del. Elijah Cummings, the speaker pro tem of the Maryland House of Delegates, former vice chair of the Economic Matters Committee and former chair of the Legislative Black Caucus of Maryland.
This year, we have a similar scenario, and the stakes are just as high.
Congressman Cummings left some really big shoes to fill in a tumultuous political climate and, of the 32 filed candidates, I believe Del. Talmadge Branch (D-Baltimore City) is the right choice to fill those shoes. Del. Branch is the current House majority whip (the third highest position in the House of Delegates), former vice chair of the Appropriations Committee and former chair of the Legislative Black Caucus of Maryland.
I am praying that today’s electorate will vote with the same wisdom they did back in 1996 and elect Talmadge Branch the next congressman.
Over his career, Del. Branch has been instrumental in passing monumental legislation such as the Tyrone Ray Safe Streets Act, designed to expand funding for community initiatives that reduce violent crime in Baltimore. He worked to pass Black Caucus priority legislation to raise the minimum wage to $15 and legislation to end price-gouging in the prescription drug industry so people can afford the life-saving medication they need.
Del. Branch has a demonstrated record of bringing home the bacon, working to fight the blight in the district with new development projects like the revitalization of the Eager Park community.
In this election, experience and ability means more than name recognition or popularity. That’s what makes Del. Branch the prime candidate for Congress.
We’ve got enough camera chasers and polarizing figures on Capitol Hill. We need to send someone to Congress who won’t get distracted and won’t become a distraction. Del. Branch is a bridge-builder with a record of working across the aisle and in the community to get major legislation passed. His record of accomplishments is unimpeachable.
Speaking from experience, when I was executive director of the Legislative Black Caucus of Maryland, we relied heavily on Del. Branch’s pragmatic leadership to pass our legislative priorities. He was instrumental in raising the minimum wage, ensuring working families had access to paid sick leave and banning pre-K suspensions.
On Feb. 4, it is of the utmost importance that we do not get distracted by the show-and-tell. We must choose a candidate who has shown and proven his ability to deliver on the big projects.
We cannot afford another Trumpian political mistake. We owe it to our children to send someone to Washington who can work across the aisle with the members of the Maryland congressional delegation and the rest of Congress to bring more government support to our schools and communities.
This is why I wholeheartedly and unequivocally support Del. Branch for U.S. Congress and so should you.
— ANDY PIERRE
The writer is a former executive director of the Legislative Black Caucus who lives in Baltimore City.
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