Harry Spikes, a longtime staff member for the late representative Elijah E. Cummings (D-Md.), speaks at Cummings’s funeral on Oct. 25. He is now running for Cummings’s seat in Congress. (Julio Cortez/AP)

A daughter of the late congressman Elijah E. Cummings has issued a statement explaining why she’s supporting one of his former staffers in the race to succeed him — a crowded contest that includes former congressman Kweisi Mfume, several state lawmakers and Cummings’s second wife, Maya Rockeymoore Cummings.

“My sister and I are supporting Harry Spikes for Congress because for the past 15 years he’s worked alongside our father to meet the needs of the people of the [Maryland] 7th Congressional District,” said Jennifer Cummings, 37. “Harry knows this community. Our father often said of himself that he was ‘an ordinary man called to an extraordinary mission,’ and Harry embodies that same spirit.”

Mfume, Spikes and Rockeymoore Cummings all spoke at the Oct. 25 funeral for Cummings, a longtime civil rights leader who gained national attention spearheading investigations into the Trump administration. Jennifer Cummings and her sister, Adia, delivered remarks, as well.

In her eulogy, Jennifer ­Cummings recalled sharing ice cream cones with her father at Baltimore’s Inner Harbor and him giving her brown-skinned dolls to play with so she would understand her “rich brown skin was just as beautiful as alabaster, or any color of the rainbow.”

She said Tuesday that Spikes, who worked in Cummings’s House office for 15 years, represented the “next generation of leadership.”

“Dad would say, ‘This isn’t about me. This is bigger than me,’ ” Jennifer Cummings said. “And Harry knows the mission to serve is bigger than him — it’s about the people of Baltimore City, Baltimore County and Howard County.”


Jennifer Cummings, left, and her sister Adia Cummings, at their father’s funeral. (Pool/Reuters)

A total of 24 Democrats and eight Republicans are running in the Feb. 4 special primary election that, because of Democrats’ overwhelming majority in the 7th District, will probably determine who serves the remainder of Cummings’s term.

Mfume, a former head of the NAACP, and Rockeymoore Cummings have national profiles and high name recognition. Among the state lawmakers running, Sen. Jill P. Carter (D-Baltimore City) and Dels. Talmadge Branch (D-Baltimore City) and Terri L. Hill (D-Howard) could tap networks in their districts to prove formidable.

Candidates nominated in the primary race will appear on the special general election ballot on April 28, the same day as the statewide 2020 primary. The general election winner will serve out the remainder of ­Cummings’s term, through the end of 2020. Candidates who want to seek the two-year term that begins in 2021 have until Jan. 24 to file for the April 28 primary.

Earlier versions of this article incorrectly referred to Maya Rockeymoore Cummings as the congressman’s third wife.