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‘We have lost a giant.’ Death of Congressman Cummings mourned in SC where he had roots

Longtime U.S. Rep. Rep. Elijah E. Cummings was mourned Thursday when news of his death spread.

The 68-year-old Maryland Democrat died of complications from longstanding health issues, according to The Associated Press.

Many of his peers, constituents and others released statements or posted about his passing on social media. That includes fellow members of the House of Representatives from South Carolina.

Democrats and Republicans from South Carolina memorialized Cummings, with House Majority Whip James Clyburn and Rep. Ralph Norman among the first to comment.

That could be because of Cummings’ connection to the Palmetto State.

Cummings had roots in Clarendon County, according to Clyburn, who represents the area as part of his congressional district. Cummings’ parents were from South Carolina, WLTX reported.

“This connection bonded us, and we were dear friends as well as colleagues. We were of like minds that our work in the Congress was not to benefit us, but to bring hope and opportunity to future generations,” Clyburn said in a news release praising Cummings. “Today we have lost a giant. Elijah Cummings was a public servant to his core. He served his constituents in Maryland with dignity and grace, while defending our democracy with a sense of duty and steady strength.”

Despite being on the opposite side of the political aisle, Norman, a Republican, also mourned the “sad news” about Cummings.

Thank you Rep. Cummings for your many years of dedicated service, not only to the people of Baltimore but to our country,” Norman said on his Twitter feed. “Our prayers are with his family at this time. God speed, Chairman Cummings.”

Fellow Republicans U.S. Sens. Tim Scott and Lindsey Graham, U.S. Rep. Jeff Duncan and former U.S. Rep. and South Carolina Gov. Mark Sanford also shared their thoughts on Cummings.

Heartbreaking to hear the news of my friend Rep. Elijah Cumming’s passing,” Scott tweeted. “My prayers are with his wife Maya, his family, and the good people of Baltimore. May God comfort the Cummings family in the days and months to come.”

“We have lost a very good man with the passing of Elijah Cummings,” Graham tweeted. “Elijah was passionate and kind. He made a difference for the people of Maryland and the nation. He was a friend and a person you could do business with.”

Sanford, who is running for president, tweeted “Elijah Cummings was a thoughtful and gracious man of great conviction. I will miss him.”

Very sad news this morning. Lifting the Cummings family up in prayer during this difficult time,” Duncan tweeted.

Trey Gowdy, another Republican from South Carolina who served in the House with Cummings, wrote a series of tweets praised Cummings’ legacy even though they “rarely agreed on political matters.”

“We never had a cross word outside of a committee room. He had a unique ability to separate the personal from the work. The story of Elijah’s life would benefit everyone, regardless of political ideation,” Gowdy said in one of the tweets.

More Democrats also mourned Cummings’ death.

Prayers from Columbia, South Carolina for Maya & the family of Congressman Elijah Cummings — a gentleman & leader who defied all odds to help lead the greatest nation on earth,” Columbia Mayor Steve Benjamin tweeted.

Marlon Kimpson, a South Carolina State Senator, also shared condolences.

“A giant tree has fallen. Our nation suffers a great loss. God bless the Cummings family. Rest In Peace Maryland Rep. Elijah Cummings. Rest In Peace,” Kimpson said in a Facebook post.

Former South Carolina State Representative and CNN political commentator Bakari Sellers tweeted “He was truly a good and faithful servant. May he rest in Power.”

“He always reminded me to speak loud & proud about my sharecropping grandparents b/c he was ‘Born a sharecropper’s son’ & the world needed to know how far we have come. Thx Chairman,” Democratic strategist Antjuan Seawright said in one of several tweets memorializing Cummings.

Jamie Harrison, who is running for the U.S. Senate in South Carolina, said Cummings was a mentor to him.

My Chairman, my mentor, our champion for equality and justice, I’m really going to miss Rep. Cummings! He epitomized the greatness of America. In this country, the son of sharecroppers & a special ed student became one of the greatest statesman of a generation. Rest in Paradise!” Harrison tweeted, along with condolences to Cummings family. “The nation weeps.”

Cummings was elected to Congress in 1996 and rose through the ranks to become chairman of the House Oversight and Reform Committee, the Associated Press reported.

In a statement, his widow, Maya Rockeymoore Cummings, chairwoman of Maryland’s Democratic Party, said “Congressman Cummings was an honorable man who proudly served his district and the nation with dignity, integrity, compassion and humility,” according to the AP. “He worked until his last breath because he believed our democracy was the highest and best expression of our collective humanity and that our nation’s diversity was our promise, not our problem.”

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Noah Feit is a Real Time reporter with The State focused on breaking news, public safety and trending news. The award-winning journalist has worked for multiple newspapers since starting his career in 1999.
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