- Associated Press - Tuesday, February 2, 2016

ANNAPOLIS, Md. (AP) - U.S. Rep. Elijah Cummings said Tuesday he won’t run for Senate and will seek re-election to a 12th term in the House.

The Maryland Democrat said he has been weighing a potential run since Sen. Barbara Mikulski announced 11 months ago she would not seek another Senate term. Cummings said he’s mindful that serving in the Senate presented a great opportunity, but the broader consequences of the 2016 elections are more important than his own future. The congressman cited the elections for U.S. president, the Maryland Senate seat and the Baltimore mayor’s office.

“With all of these challenges in mind, it is critical that we all work together to elect strong, progressive leadership up and down the ticket in 2016 - and I believe that I can best serve the people of our city, our state and our nation by continuing my work in Congress, by continuing to touch people in every part of our great nation and by leading an united effort to elect progressives across the board - rather than by focusing upon one single Senate race,” Cumming said.

Cummings, 65, is the leading Democrat on the House Oversight & Government Reform Committee. As the senior Democrat on the Benghazi panel, he was a leading defender of former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, who is now seeking the Democratic nomination for president.

Cummings, whose House district includes parts of Baltimore city and parts of Baltimore and Howard counties, also has been credited for his leadership in response to rioting in Baltimore after the 2015 death of Freddie Gray in police custody.

“We will be electing a new mayor in my hometown of Baltimore, and it is essential that he or she lead and unite us in repairing our city, healing its divisions and moving us forward, not backward,” Cumming said in his statement Tuesday.

His decision leaves Rep. Chris Van Hollen and Rep. Donna Edwards as the leading candidates in the Democratic primary to succeed Mikulski.

A November poll by The Baltimore Sun and the University of Baltimore indicated Cummings was leading in a three-way race with 40 percent of support from Maryland Democratic voters. A poll released last month by Gonzales Research & Marketing found Van Hollen had a slim lead over Edwards, 38 percent to 36 percent, within the margin of error. The Gonzales poll said 24 percent of voters were undecided.

The filing deadline at the Maryland State Board of Elections is 9 p.m. Wednesday in Annapolis.

Maryland’s primary is scheduled for April 26.

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