State Del. Hasan M. “Jay” Jalisi (D), reprimanded by his colleagues earlier this year for mistreating and overworking his legislative staff, just beat Wednesday’s 5 p.m. filing deadline and entered the crowded special election to replace the late U.S. Rep. Elijah E. Cummings (D-Md.).
In all, 24 Democrats and eight Republicans filed to compete in the 7th District special primary on Feb. 4. Jalisi joins a Democratic field that includes state House Majority Whip Talmadge Branch of Baltimore City; state Sen. Jill P. Carter of Baltimore City; former state Democratic chairwoman Maya Rockeymoore Cummings, the late congressman’s widow; Del. Terri S. Hill of Howard County; and former Rep. Kweisi Mfume.
The Republican field includes Kimberly Klacik, a member of the Baltimore County Republican Central Committee and social media provocateur, and Liz Matory, who was the GOP nominee against Rep. C.A. Dutch Ruppersberger (D) in 2018.
The crowded field equals the size of the field for the 1996 7th District special election, when Cummings was elected to replace Mfume. That race attracted 28 Democrats and four Republicans.
The House voted unanimously to reprimand Jalisi in March after the Joint Committee on Legislative Ethics issued a searing report detailing five years’ worth of incidents in which the second-term lawmaker was verbally abusive to his office staff and central General Assembly staffers. Jalisi, the report said, created a “toxic” work environment and ignored repeated requests from then-House speaker Michael E. Busch (D) and other top lawmakers to temper his behavior and take anger management and workplace civility courses.
While Jalisi entered the contest Wednesday, another lawmaker, Del. Vanessa Atterbeary (D-Howard), used the filing deadline to announce via Facebook that she would not become a candidate.
“There is much work still to be done in our great state and it is for that reason I have decided against running for this seat,” Atterbeary wrote. “I applaud many of those who have thrown their hats into the ring. I urge all of my constituents and supporters to look hard at their resumes and vote for a candidate who has proven they can head to Congress and legislate effectively for the citizens of Maryland and the USA.”