The woman running to be the first Republican to represent Maryland’s 7th congressional district, told the Star News Network she campaigns every day to defeat the Democratic incumbent without the help of the state’s GOP Gov. Lawrence J. “Larry” Hogan Jr.
Kimberly Klacik said she is grateful the support of President Donald J. Trump, but Hogan? “Governor Hogan? No. No, but I know he’s friends with my opponent, so I wouldn’t expect him to say anything on my behalf.”
Hogan’s fried is Democrat Rep. Kweisi Mfume, who won the April 28 special election to fill the seat made vacant upon the death of Elijah Cummings.
Congratulations to Congressman Kweisi Mfume, who was sworn in today to the U.S. House of Representatives. I have great respect for him, and look forward to working together as we continue to navigate this crisis.
— Governor Larry Hogan (@GovLarryHogan) May 5, 2020
Mfume held the seat from 1987 to 1996, leaving Congress to takeover the leadership of the NAACP, and was succeeded by Cummings. Mfume left his post at the helm of the NAACP after multiple women came forward with stories of his misconduct.
The incumbent, despite his experience and tenure, refused to debate the Republican candidate, she said.
“I think, at this point, eight requests. I’ve said, yes, obviously to all eight and my opponent has declined to all eight,” she said.
“He will not debate me,” she said. “I guess that is his final word. The League of Women Voters, I think, reached out to him last week, he said he was interested, and then, all of a sudden, he said no, he will not do it.”
Klacik raises $6.4 million in blowout 3Q after viral campaign ads
In addition to help from the president, Klacik, and her director Benny Johnson, revolutionized political advertising with her commercials that have been garnered millions of views across the country and around the world.
“I think they said it will probably go down as one of the most watched campaign ads in history, which would be awesome,” she said.
“At the end of this quarter, Sept. 30, we found out out exactly how much he’s raised versus how much we’ve raised,” she said. “We’ve raised over $6 million now.”
For the third quarter, Klack raised $6,445,451 compared with Mfume’s $184,349.
The Republican said her videos and commericials were a big part of her fundraising success.
Another part was the support of Donald J. Trump Jr. and Sen. Rand Paul (R.-Ky.).
Such a fantastic day! @DonaldJTrumpJr gave the best speech I’ve heard in a long time.
— Kimberly Klacik (@kimKBaltimore) October 16, 2020
It would be easy to assume that Klacik is a novice, but for more than five years she has been a regular guest on Fox News and One America News. She also worked as a volunteer guide on Capitol Hill—not for tourists, but for congressmen, senators and witnesses struggling to navigate the maze of tunnels and back hallways that confound the most seasoned Hill veterans.
In this case, the cliché is absolutely correct: She knows her way around Capitol Hill.
Residents in Maryland’s 7th congressional district have been left behind
The wild success of her videos on social media have raised her profile and name recognition, but in many ways her campaign is a throwback to shoe leather and door knocking, she said.
Parts of the district have been left as the residents are no longer connected to what is going on outside their neighborhoods, she said.
“The interesting part about the city is that not a lot of people pay attention to politics, so, we literally got to get in everyone’s face because they’re not watching it on television. They’re not listening to the radio,” Klacik said.
“A lot of them do not have social media in certain areas of West Baltimore, because of the Wi-Fi situation and some dead zones, so we literally have to get in front of their faces to get that name recognition, and then also tell them more about the platform,” she said. “We’ve been knocking doors seven days a week, registering voters five days a week.”
TEAM KLACIK hit 487 doors today!
— Kimberly Klacik (@kimKBaltimore) October 17, 2020
Another aspect of the campaign is the special wrapped bus, she said.
“I think, hopefully, what it’s doing is showing people: ‘Look, we are a force. We are in this race. We’re here to compete just as my opponent,’” she said.
“Our bus driver, Joe, he’s a great guy, he’s a great driver, and he’s now working because of the campaign being able to use the bus,” she said.
“We’ve been busing around our volunteers,” she said. “Just pulling up with the bus in the neighborhoods, they’re like: ‘Wait a minute, wait a minute. This girl’s making some money. She’s got some donations flowing if she’s got an entire bus wrapped with her face on it.’
— Mack-the-Machinist (@MachinistMack) October 12, 2020
The centerpiece of the Klacik campaign is take the message of economic opportunity, law and order and government services to the people.
“There’s a lot of individuals, when they look around their neighborhoods and they see the blight, they see the trash, they see what their surroundings are and they do believe that, that is a normal situation,” Klacik said.
Living conditions, especially in West Baltimore are like places outside of America, she said.
“That they should be living around rat-infested areas, that trash is fine, that out of 13 of 39 high schools, you’ve got kids graduating not proficient in math. They think this is a normal thing,” she said.
“We just talk to people and say: ‘Look, you deserve so much better. You deserve a better quality of life.’ We tell them: ‘Look I know a lot of people talk about Republicans being this horrible party and not caring about black people, but as a black woman, I’m standing here telling you that I’ve been a Republican since 2009. I will never look back to the Democrat party,’” she said.
Klacik said she shares her own story and political journey to the GOP with the voters and they like what they hear. “When we knocked door-to-door, a lot of people say: ‘You’re the first Republican I’ve ever met, so how on earth do I vote for anything other than a Democrat if I’ve never even actually met a Republican?’”
It is a lesson, she said she hopes other Republicans learn from her campaign.
“I’d say you can’t write these cities or areas off where you believe they’re so heavily blue that you can’t come away with a win,” she said. “Republicans say: ‘Oh, we’re not going to win this and we’re not going to try,’ but to me, it’s about chipping away at it.”
As much as Klacik is a Republican, she is also aware that the National Republican Congressional Committee was not eager to help her until after she was lauded by Trump and she was able to raise money on her own.
In the end, the NRCC did step up, but in a bizarre way only after she did not need its support.
Similarly, the Maryland Republican Party was not interested in helping her until late in the game—much of the credit for this should go to Hogan. In addition to his friendship with Mfume, the Republican governor is an embittered enemy of the president. In the lead up to the primaries, Hogan even entertained the fantasy that he could challenge Trump for the nomination. There is no way Hogan wants a Trump supporter in Maryland’s House delegation.
Hyper-gerrymanding created the district’s Democratic super-majority
Maryland has some of the most notoriously drawn congressional districts in the country, and the 7th is one of them. After the 2012 census, the district was drawn to include West Baltimore, the site of many of the city’s poorest neighborhoods, and then west the suburbs and the military reservation of Fort George G. Meade—in this way very similar to the district after the 2000 census.
The new district then springs north like a tree trunk for 10 or 20 miles and then moves to the east to act like a canopy over the North Baltimore and the north east suburbs—and alternating patches of the state’s 2nd and 3rd congressional districts.
Maryland’s congressional districts, ranked by gerrymanderedness: pic.twitter.com/sTHIRS9fUN
— Preston Cooper (but spookier) 🎃🕸️🦇👻 (@PrestonCooper93) November 7, 2016
These machinations created a 7th congressional district that is the 41st most Democratic in the country with a super majority of Democrats over Republicans by 26 percentage points.
Klacik, a beauty queen who reigned as Mrs. Baltimore 2014, said she has a turnout strategy to win the district, despite the crazy map and patchwork of neighborhoods.
“We’re focusing more of our efforts in Baltimore County in certain areas and Howard County,” she said.
“We’re doing pretty well. Of course, Baltimore city, we need at least 15 percent in the city to win this thing,” she said. “Right now, we’ve been doing internal polls, and of course, we had the external polls, and it looks like we are making a significant swing upward and our opponent is swinging downward. So, we know what cities we kind of have to focus on at this point according to the polls.”
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Neil W. McCabe is a Washington-based national political reporter for The Tennessee Star and The Star News Network. In addition to the Star Newspaper, he has covered the White House, Capitol Hill and national politics for One America News, Breitbart, Human Events and Townhall. Before coming to Washington, he was a staff reporter for Boston’s Catholic paper, The Pilot, and the editor of two Boston-area community papers, The Somerville News and The Alewife. McCabe is a public affairs NCO in the Army Reserve and he deployed for 15 months to Iraq as a combat historian.
Photo “Kimberly Klacik” by Kimberly Klacik.