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Hill, Higginbotham, Branch Exit Congressional Race

As he campaigns in the April 28 special general election to replace the late U.S. Rep. Elijah E. Cummings (D), former Rep. Kweisi Mfume (D) will simultaneously have to wage a primary campaign for a full term against his two nearest competitors in this week’s special Democratic primary.

Former Maryland Democratic chairwoman Maya Rockeymoore Cummings, the late congressman’s widow, and state Sen. Jill P. Carter (D-Baltimore City) have decided to stay in the regular April 28 primary despite finishing well behind Mfume on Tuesday’s special primary.

Thursday was the last day for candidates who had been on the April congressional ballot to drop out, and three high-profile contenders in the special primary took advantage of that extended deadline. Del. Terri L. Hill (D-Howard) and University of Baltimore Law School professor F. Michael Higginbotham withdrew from the race on Thursday; state House Majority Whip Talmadge Branch (D-Baltimore City) exited Wednesday.

Hill finished fourth in the special primary race with 7.5% of the vote; Higginbotham placed fifth, with 4.5%. Branch took 1.1%.

“We fell short on Tuesday, but I still believe we were successful,” Hill said in a statement Wednesday evening. “Our message of a brighter future connected with the voters we spoke with across the district – we just simply ran out of time. I am extremely happy that I ran. I met so many incredible people on this campaign who energized me with their stories and affirmed my service with their faith in me.”

Higginbotham, a novice candidate who spent more than $500,000 of his own money on the special primary, issued a statement endorsing Mfume over conservative commentator Kimberly Klacik (R) in the April 28 special general election, but said he was not prepared to make an endorsement in the regular primary on the same day.

“Many are exceptionally well qualified,” Higginbotham said, adding that he planned to remain active in local politics.

Mfume took 42.8% of the vote in Tuesday’s special primary. Rockeymoore Cummings took 17.1% and Carter won 16.1%. Both are counting on the extra time, and the anticipated broader electorate that will come out for the presidential primary and city elections in Baltimore, benefiting their candidacies.

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