Michael Higginbotham, a longtime professor at the University of Baltimore School of Law, and one of two dozen Democrats vying for a rare open congressional seat in Maryland, is giving his campaign $500,000 in hope of generating contributions from others.

Higginbotham wants to raise $1 million to pay for television and radio ads, which he said will be key to introducing himself to voters in a short campaign season. He said he’s lived frugally and has made some good investments, and can afford to tap into some of his retirement money to show potential donors that “I have my personal financial stake in this as well. I’m asking you to contribute, but I have skin in the game as well.”

The Feb. 4 primary probably will decide who fills the vacancy created by the death of U.S. Rep. Elijah E. Cummings, who represented a heavily Democratic district that includes much of Baltimore and swaths of Howard and Baltimore counties.

Thirty-two candidates have filed to run, including eight Republicans. Among them are Kweisi Mfume, who held the congressional seat before Cummings; policy consultant and former state party chair Maya Rockeymoore Cummings, who is Elijah Cummings’s widow; four state lawmakers; and a candidate who was a longtime aide to the late congressman.

Higginbotham, 62, said he would formally kick off his campaign Thursday evening.

Like others running for the seat, Higginbotham said he would work to continue Elijah Cummings’s legacy, protecting voting rights and expanding criminal justice reform to address wrongful incarceration and disproportionate sentencing based on race, as well as encourage smooth reentry to the community after incarceration.

“I’m really sick and tired of the injustice that I’m seeing not only in the 7th Congressional District but around the country,” he said in an interview. “I teach about racial equality and gender equity and constitutional issues dealing with due process. I see the country going backward, and I’m sick and tired of it.”

Higginbotham was born in Pittsburgh and went to high school in Los Angeles. He has spent 32 years as a law professor. He has written several books and is a frequent guest on cable news.