For a couple of hours Monday, the long wait to see whether Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-Md.) would run for Senate seemed to be over, at least to anyone who was checking the Maryland State Board of Elections website.
The site listed Cummings as a candidate for reelection to his current seat in Congress, which would mean he had chosen not to run for the Democratic nomination to succeed longtime U.S. Sen. Barbara A. Mikulski.
But elections officials and Cummings’s spokesman said that the website was wrong. In fact, with the filing deadline two days away, Cummings still has not declared his candidacy for either office, said his spokesman, Mike Christianson.
“He plans on being down there before the deadline, and he’ll file — for something,” Christianson said.
The two declared Democratic candidates for the Senate primary are colleagues of Cummings in Congress, representatives Donna Edwards and Chris Van Hollen.
An elections official said that the process of becoming a candidate includes two steps: a preliminary form, which can be filed by fax, and a second one, which the candidate must complete in person.
Cummings faxed in his first form, in case he decides to run for reelection to his current seat, but he has not appeared in person, said Donna Duncan, assistant deputy for election policy. “He had pre-filed some documents, and somebody mistakenly — it was a data entry error,” Duncan said. “We apologize for any misunderstanding or confusion that our data entry mistake caused.”
The blog Maryland Scramble saw the erroneous listing on Monday and posted a “breaking news” alert that said Cummings was listed as a candidate for his House seat. The listing was soon corrected.
Edwards and Van Hollen declared their candidacies months ago and have been campaigning vigorously. Cummings, despite strong poll numbers, has appeared openly torn about whether to give up the House seat he has held for 32 years to try for a higher-profile, and arguably more powerful, perch in the U.S. Senate.
A key figure in calming protesters after riots in Baltimore last year, Cummings has expressed concern about leaving his inner-city congressional district for a political gamble. He is considered a relatively weak fundraiser and has not faced a competitive race in many years.
But a Washington Post-University of Maryland poll in early October found Cummings leading both candidates in a hypothetical three-way race, with 33 percent of the vote among Democrats and Democrat-leading independents.
Van Hollen and Edwards each had 20 percent. Without Cummings, Edwards was leading Van Hollen, 38 percent to 28 percent.
In September, Baltimore pastor Jamal Bryant announced that he would run for Cummings’s congressional seat, saying at the time that he expected Cummings to run for Senate.
He gave up that effort days later, saying he thought Cummings would opt out of the Senate race.
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