Mfume picks up endorsements

Prominent Baltimore lawmakers offer their support in U.S. Senate run


U.S. Senate candidate Kweisi Mfume accepted a dozen key city endorsements yesterday from the pulpit of an East Baltimore church, vowing to continue his primary fight against Rep. Benjamin L. Cardin and asking his supporters to stick with him.

"This campaign is like the little red engine that could," Mfume, the former Democratic congressman and leader of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, said to about 40 people at the John Wesley African Methodist Episcopal Zion Church. " ... We will continue to push along and tug along."

The list of those endorsing Mfume included some of the most prominent African-American figures in Baltimore: state Senate Majority Leader Nathaniel J. McFadden; state Sens. Ralph M. Hughes and Lisa A. Gladden; Dels. Marshall T. Goodwin, Catherine E. Pugh, Nathaniel T. Oaks, Clarence Davis, Hattie N. Harrison and Talmadge Branch; and City Council President Sheila Dixon and Vice President Stephanie C. Rawlings Blake. City Councilman Nicholas C. D'Adamo Jr., who is white, also endorsed Mfume last night.

In praising Mfume, McFadden called out to African-American Illinois Sen. Barack Obama: "Obama, help is on the way," he said.

Branch said Mfume will represent "the state of Maryland as whole," and he challenged voters to examine the staffs of the other candidates to see whether they reflect the state's diversity.

Cardin spoke last night at a meet-the-candidate event hosted by the Associated Black Charities at the Reginald F. Lewis Museum of Maryland African American History and Culture in Baltimore.

His spokesman, Oren Shur, said the Cardin campaign has three African-American staff members of 11 full-time employees. "Anyone who knows Ben Cardin knows that he is committed to diversity in his staff, both in Congress and on the campaign," Shur said.

A Sun poll released last month found Cardin and Mfume running neck and neck, with more than a third of voters undecided in the Democratic Senate primary. Other candidates in the race, forensic psychiatrist Lise Van Susteren, American University professor Allan Lichtman and developer Joshua Rales, trailed far behind. A. Robert Kaufman also is in the race but was not part of the poll.

Lt. Gov. Michael S. Steele, a Republican, also is running for Senate.

Mfume, who racked up a number of Prince George's County endorsements last month, including the county executive, railed against the Bush administration and Congress for not doing more to track down Osama bin Laden. He criticized the country's leaders for not providing health care to all Americans and for letting so many live in poverty.

"I hope that you will watch this campaign and stay with us," Mfume said, a banner reading "Healing the Divide in 2005" hung over his head. "We're not going anywhere."

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