Kim Klacik is an American businesswoman running in the high-profile congressional race to claim the seat for Maryland’s 7th district. Her viral campaign ad showing the candidate walking through some of the more neglected areas of Baltimore lambasted Democratic leadership in urban areas with large African American populations and catapulted her to GOP stardom when President Trump retweeted the video in August.
Since the ad, Klacik spoke at the Republican National Convention and has made several national television appearances pledging to develop jobs in opportunity zones like Baltimore, declaring that “all Black lives matter,” and, “Baltimore doesn’t have to vote Democrat.”
Baltimore emerged at the center of racial politics when the president criticized its deteriorating conditions in 2019, prompting a confrontation with former Rep. Elijah Cummings, D-Md. Klacik was defeated in April’s special election by Democratic Rep. Kweisi Mfume, who filled the seat left unoccupied by Cummings after his death. Klacik will try to unseat Mfume on Election Day.
Here’s a summary of what to know about the Republican congressional candidate.
Klacik raised a whopping $6,445,451 for her congressional campaign from July 1 through Sept. 30, according to her latest filing with the Federal Election Commission in mid-October. Most contributions came from out-of-state donors, the Baltimore Sun reported. Her opponent Mgume raised $184,349 during the same fundraising quarter.
Republican Kimberly Klacik talks with a voter during the election between herself and Democrat Kweisi Mfume to fill the remainder of the late Rep. Elijah Cummings term at Edmondson High School in Baltimore, Md. (Tom Williams/CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty Images)
The ad that started it all
She has attributed part of her fundraising success to President Trump and his son, Donald Trump Jr., who both retweeted her campaign ad in August. In the ad, Klacik asks, “Do you care about Black lives? The people that run Baltimore don’t. I can prove it. Walk with me. They don’t want you to see this…”
As she walks through Baltimore’s streets, she explains to the camera: “This is the reality for Black people every single day: crumbling infrastructure, abandoned homes, poverty, and crime. Baltimore has been run by the Democrat Party for 53 years. What is the result of their decades of leadership?”
Klacik, who is Black, explains that Baltimore is one of the top five most dangerous cities in America, the murder rate in Baltimore is 10 times the U.S. average, the Baltimore poverty rate is over 20%, and “homicide, drug, and alcohol deaths are skyrocketing in our city.”
“Do you believe Black lives matter? I do,” she affirms. “The vast majority of crime in Baltimore is perpetrated against Black people, who make up 60% of the population. So why don’t we care about our communities? The Democrat Party has betrayed the Black people of Baltimore. If politicians walked the streets like I do, they would see exactly how their policies and corruption affect us.”
“Go to any Baltimore neighborhood and ask this question: Do you want to defund the police?” Klacik challenges. The video then shows three Baltimore residents responding: “No.”
One man claims he had three sons all killed in violence in Baltimore. Another man asks how he’s supposed to defend his community without the police, all the while “families are losing people.”
“Look at this. How are children supposed to live here and play here?” she asks, showing smashed windows and empty streets. “Democrats think Black people are stupid.
“They think they can control us forever. That we won’t demand better. And that we’ll keep voting for them forever despite what they’ve done to our families and our communities. Are they right?”
In the final words of the ad, Klacik affirms: “Black people don’t have to vote Democrat.”
Trump retweeted the ad in August, pledging to “bring Baltimore back, and fast.”
Klacik took aim at former Vice President Joe Biden in a speech during the first night of the Republican National Convention, accusing the Democratic presidential nominee of believing that Black Americans “can’t think for ourselves.”
“Joe Biden believes we can’t think for ourselves — that the color of someone’s skin dictates their political views,” she said in her remarks. “We’re not buying the lies anymore — you and your party have ignored us for too long.”
Black voters as a whole helped Biden clinch the Democratic nomination after a decisive victory during the South Carolina primary. But that success hinges on his support among older Black voters.
Controversial comments the former vice president made about race have also threatened to erode that support. During an interview at the convention of the National Association of Black Journalists and National Association of Hispanic Journalists, Biden contrasted Black and Hispanic populations in the U.S.
“Unlike the African American community, with notable exceptions, the Latino community is an incredibly diverse community with incredibly different attitudes about different things,” he said during the interview in August. (Biden later sought to clarify that he did not “mean to suggest the African American community is a monolith.”)
Hitting the same theme from her campaign ad, Klacik during her address accused Democrats of running Baltimore — and other major cities across the country — “into the ground,” despite high taxes. Baltimore’s population is about 60% Black, according to the Census Bureau.
“And yet, the Democrats still assume that Black people will vote for them, no matter how much they let us down and take us for granted,” she continued. “Nope. We’re sick of it and not going to take it anymore. The days of blindly supporting the Democrats are coming to an end.”
Second campaign ad
Klacik outlined her plan to “make life better for the Black people here” in Baltimore if she’s elected in a follow-up political ad also walking through the city’s streets.
She said Baltimore was once one of the most prosperous, populated, and powerful cities in America until Democratic leaders “abandoned us and Baltimore fell into ruin.” In the ad, Klacik stomps her heel before a computer simulation shows “what could be” if trash is cleaned up and taken out of abandoned buildings and jobs are brought into the city to allow African Americans to achieve homeownership.
Klacik pledges to work with city leaders to get Baltimore’s Solid Waste Bureau the resources it needs to take out the trash. She says, “our streets should be a reflection of our leaders: clean, not dirty.”
There are over 17,000 abandoned buildings in Baltimore, and Klacik promises to support tax credits and incentive programs to allow residents a chance to buy and rehabilitate empty homes.
Klacik says the newly employed constituents of Baltimore City will be able to afford to live in these homes, and, as a congresswoman, she will grow jobs by having businesses invest in the community. She plans to utilize the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act which uses federal tax incentives to drive private investment into opportunity zones like Baltimore.
Citing statistics, Klacik says nine out of ten Black boys are not reading at grade level in Baltimore, and over a dozen high schools in Baltimore have zero students proficient in math. She says it’s crucial to ensure there’s an educated workforce to hold new jobs.
“We can end the school to prison pipeline with school choice, providing parents with options to escape schools that do not serve our children,” she says. “Let’s leave Baltimore better for our kids.”
“Tens of millions of you have shared the struggle of Black people in Baltimore. You’ve lifted our voices. You’ve cared about our Black lives more than our own Democrat leaders,” Klacik says in the ad, before affirming: “All Black lives matter. Our communities matter. We matter. And Baltimore doesn’t have to vote Democrat.”
What’s her background?
Klacik currently lives in Middle River, which is not in the 7th District, but said she will relocate if elected, the Baltimore Sun reported. The 7th District includes parts of Baltimore City, as well as sections of Howard and Baltimore counties.
According to her campaign website, Klacik is a wife, mother and founder of the non-profit “Potential Me,” which has worked since 2013 to help hundreds of women become gainfully employed and achieve financial independence. She grew up in Accokeek, Md., and moved to Baltimore in 2010 once she became engaged to her husband.
Fox News’ Talia Kaplan, Adam Shaw, Megan Henney and Judson Berger contributed to this report.