Few big names in Maryland politics have made endorsements in the crowded Democratic primary race to succeed the late congressman Elijah E. Cummings, a contest that includes some of the late congressman’s closest confidantes.

That changed Saturday morning when Ben Jealous, the 2018 Democratic nominee for governor, announced he was backing Jill P. Carter, a state senator betting her liberal bona fides can help her leapfrog two more well-known candidates.

It marked the first major endorsement from a Maryland politician in the special election for a rare open seat representing parts of Baltimore city and Baltimore and Howard counties. Democrats far outnumber Republicans in the district, and the Feb. 4 Democratic primary will likely decide who completes Cummings’s term.

The winner will also have the advantage in the April 28 primary for a full two-year stint in office.

With two dozen Democrats in the race, a small number of voters could decide the contest. Pundits say the front-runners are Kweisi Mfume, who held the seat from 1987 to 1996, and Maya Rockeymoore Cummings, the congressman’s widow and former head of the state Democratic Party.

Several Republicans are seeking their party’s nomination for the seat.

Rockeymoore Cummings picked up an endorsement Thursday from Emily’s List, which endorses female Democratic candidates who support access to abortion.

An endorsement from Jealous, a surrogate to presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), could be considered significant because Jealous has connections to several candidates who are seeking Cummings’s seat.

He previously backed Rockeymore Cummings for party chair. Like Mfume, Jealous is a former president of the NAACP, the nation’s oldest civil rights organization, which is headquartered in Baltimore.

In a 40-second video, Jealous extols Carter as an anti-establishment, anti-corruption candidate — a potent message in a city beset by scandal.

It was legislation sponsored by Carter that prompted a Baltimore Sun investigation into self-dealing at the University of Maryland Medical System, which led to the resignation last year of Baltimore mayor and former state senator Catherine E. Pugh.

Carter, a Sanders delegate in 2016, also has the support of the local and state chapters of Our Revolution, a nonprofit political organization founded by Sanders.

“She has the courage to stand up and fight for Medicare-for-all,” Jealous says in the ad, “and she has the courage to stand up to Donald Trump just like she stood up to the establishment in our state.”

Emily’s List backed Rockeymoore Cummings’s brief campaign for governor in 2017 and helped her team prepare to launch her congressional campaign.

In a statement, the group’s president, Stephanie Schriock, called Rockeymoore Cummings a “lifelong champion for social justice, human rights, and strengthening the well-being of kids, seniors, families, and workers.”

The Interdenominational Ministerial Alliance of Baltimore, a group of clergy from across the Baltimore metro area, on Thursday endorsed Mfume.

As well-known candidates try to shore up voters, others are busy introducing themselves to the electorate.

Michael Higginbotham, a longtime professor at the University of Baltimore School of Law who is partially self funding his campaign, on Tuesday launched digital ads worth $105,000 that will air on Facebook and other platforms.

The spot shows Higginbotham jogging through Baltimore as he denounces President Trump’s July Twitter tirade calling the district “rat and rodent infested mess” where “no human being would want to live.”

“When Donald Trump attacked us, he didn’t know what he was coming up against,” Higginbotham says. “Baltimore is my city. The 7th District is our community and in a country of so much, so many go without the opportunities they are due.”

Del. Terri L. Hill (D-Howard) on Thursday released a list of her upcoming events, including a near daily parade of forums, church services and speeches.

More than a dozen community forums and other events are planned for the next month. Among them:

●The Democratic clubs in Howard County are jointly sponsoring a forum Jan. 18 in Ellicott City.

●On Jan. 20, Larry Young, a WOLB 1010 AM radio host and former state senator, will moderate the MLK Day Congressional Debate, featuring seven candidates.

●The United Democratic Women of Maryland on Jan. 25 will hold a forum in Baltimore for at least three candidates.