BALTIMORE (AP) — Jamal Bryant, a pastor who was highly visible during the unrest in Baltimore after Freddie Gray's death and who announced last week that he was running for Congress, dropped out of the race Tuesday.
Bryant told members of his congregation at Empowerment Temple Church that he was leaving the race in Maryland's 7th District. He said part of the reason for his decision was that Democratic Rep. Elijah Cummings, who has held the seat since 1996, told him he would seek re-election rather than run for the seat being vacated by U.S. Sen. Barbara Mikulski.
Bryant announced he was entering the 7th District contest on Sept. 14 amid speculation that Cummings would run for Mikulski's seat.
Cummings, whose district includes the area torn by riots in the spring, also was highly visible during that time, asking residents to remain calm and urging people to go home ahead of a curfew that was imposed during the unrest.
Cummings and his spokesmen did not respond to telephone messages late Tuesday.
Bryant told his congregation, "I had hoped my mentor Elijah Cummings would ascend, and bless the state of Maryland by running for the U.S. Senate. Over the last couple of days, I have had the opportunity to talk to our beloved and much revered congressman to find and to discover he is not going to offer himself to the Senate and he is going to remain in the 7th Congressional district."
Bryant also tweeted late Tuesday: "Our representative will continue to serve us in the house & I will continue to advocate in the sanctuary & in the street"
In announcing his withdrawal, Bryant also referred to his obligation to the ministry.
"Answering the call of Jesus Christ is the first responsibility of my life," he said.