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Clash of the Titans: Jamal Bryant to Take on Rep. Elijah Cummings

Well known and well respected Baltimore pastor Jamal Bryant announced today that he will take on well known and well respected Congressman Elijah Cummings (D-MD), 64, for his congressional seat in what would be a political clash of the titans in Baltimore.

Bryant, 44, is the Pastor of The Empowerment Temple in Baltimore and played an active role in assisting the community after riots broke out following the death of Freddie Gray, 28, in police custody.

To the chants of "run Jamal run" this morning, Bryant's supporters gathered in Baltimore early this morning to hear his announcement which included many futuristic themes.

"I am not opposing anyone, I am proposing new ideas," Bryant told the crowd. "The country we love can be better... we are facing many crises... it is time for us to stand and to lead," Bryant told the audience gathered on the steps at 1505 Eutaw Place in Baltimore.

Bryant's run for Congress is likely to be viewed as an example of how the agenda of Black Lives Matter is influencing generational politics. Bryant said his campaign would focus on police reform and job opportunities -- two of the top agenda items of the Black Lives Matter movement.

"After the Freddie Gray uprising, the proliferation of police brutality across this nation, the lack of jobs... I decided that leading a successful congregation ... is not enough," Bryant said in a statement early this morning.

"We don't need a leader who listens and does not deliver," Bryant said, never mentioning Rep. Cummings directly. But it appeared clear that Bryant's words were a call for a change in leadership as he echoed a challenge to the status quo.

Both Cummings and Bryant were seen in the community in the aftermath of the riots in Baltimore after Gray's death. Cummings, who has served in Congress since 1996, is currently the most senior Democrat on the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform.

Bryant was asked about Cummings and had only words of praise for him and his work in Congress. Bryant also sounded as if he was expecting Cummings to run for Senator Barbara Mikulski’s (D-MD) seat. Mikulski, the longest serving woman in Congress in U.S. history, announced her retirement this spring.

"I think he's done a wonderful job and he's been an incredible leader... our community is in the midst of change. I don't know what his plans are. I think he has an incredible opportunity. If he decides to stay in I will have a conversation with him because I respect him that much," Bryant said when asked if he'd still run if his opponent was Cummings.

Image:
State's Attorney Marilyn Mosby, right, listens as U.S. Rep. Elijah Cummings speaks during an announcement of the start of the Baltimore Federal Homicide Task Force, Monday, Aug. 3, 2015, in Baltimore. (Lloyd Fox/The Baltimore Sun via AP) Lloyd Fox / AP

If Cummings decides to run for re-election for Congress, Bryant will likely have an uphill battle in challenging Cummings -- but it will also be a vigorous campaign pitting old vs new. Cummings is a well respected member of Congress who many respect in the community. Cummings also has a considerable war chest -- as of early July, he had over $900,000 in cash-on-hand.

When asked last week whether he would run for the Senate after the Senator Mikulski’s retirement, Cummings said he had not decided yet. Many insiders say Cummings is unlikely to run though he has not made his decision public yet.

What happens next will hinge on whether Cummings decides to stay put in the House or make a run for the Senate.