Former NAACP President Kweisi Mfume said Monday that he will run for the U.S. Senate in 2006.
“It is with great pride and deep humility that I announce to you today my candidacy for the Senate of the United States,” Mfume said in a statement made available to reporters at a news conference in Baltimore.
Mfume, who was a five-term U.S. congressman before becoming president of the Baltimore-based National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, issued the statement after incumbent Paul Sarbanes, 72, announced Friday that he will not run for re-election.
Mfume, 56, left the House in 1996.
At the time, the NAACP was in turmoil — rocked by an embarrassing sex scandal involving its previous head, bitter internal strife and a crippling $3.2 million deficit.
Many observers say Mfume brought credibility and stability, working to institute corporate style-management practices. When he stepped down in November, the organization had enjoyed a budget surplus for eight consecutive years and an increasing endowment fund.
Mfume, whose adopted West African name translates to “conquering son of kings,” began his career as a dashiki-clad radio talk show host and political activist in the 1970s.
He also has been mentioned as a possible Democratic candidate for governor of Maryland.
Maryland traditionally votes Democratic, and went for John Kerry in the 2004 presidential election. Sarbanes, the longest serving senator in Maryland’s history, is serving alongside outspoken Democratic Sen. Barbara Mikulski.