By Josh Kurtz
Ever since Gov. Larry Hogan (R) pulled off the upset of 2014, several Democratic strategists and stalwarts have argued that Rep. Elijah Cummings (D) would make the party’s strongest gubernatorial contender in 2018.
He’s not running for governor.
But his wife might.
Maryland Matters has learned that Maya Rockeymoore, a policy strategist and former Capitol Hill staffer who is married to Cummings, is seriously pondering the race.
Frustrated by the absence of women candidates in the contest but intrigued by the potential opening that creates in the Democratic primary, Rockeymoore has been soliciting advice from party leaders, operatives, activists and potential donors.
“I know she’s calling around,” said an elected official.
A top Democratic donor said he believes “Maya’s 99 percent in.”
A decision – which could include the interim step of creating an exploratory committee – is expected soon, according to several people who have talked to Rockeymoore in the past few weeks.
Rockeymoore, who is head of Global Policy Solutions, a consulting firm in Washington, D.C., did not respond to several messages left at her office over the past few days. An aide, Simona Combi, said Rockeymoore was tied up preparing for a major conference this week.
Cummings’s office did not respond to a request for comment on Monday.
This is not the first time that Rockeymoore’s name has been mentioned in connection to running for office. When supporters were trying to persuade Cummings to run for Senate in 2016, his wife’s name surfaced as a potential contender for his 7th district House seat in the event that he moved on.
Rockeymoore won a race to become a delegate to the Democratic National Convention in 2016 — with her husband’s support.
“I have known Maya for almost twenty years,” Cummings said in a news release issued during her campaign for delegate, according to an account in The Baltimore Sun. “Throughout that time, she has been a staunch advocate for the issues that are most important for Americans of all backgrounds. She is a Social Security expert, a public health advocate, and a champion for struggling families and communities.”
Rockeymoore has run her policy and consulting business in D.C. for a dozen years, according to her LinkedIn profile. The firm works with businesses, nonprofit organizations and government agencies to achieve “positive social change,” the company website says.
Previously she worked on Capitol Hill for former Reps. Charlie Rangel (D-N.Y.) and Mel Watt (D-N.C.) and for the House Ways and Means Committee. She has also worked for the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation and the National Urban League.
Rockeymoore earned a bachelor of arts in political science from Prairie View A&M University in Texas in 1993. She later earned a masters degree and a Ph.D in political science from Purdue University.
Allies for Reaching Community Health Equity, an entity affiliated with Rockeymoore’s firm, is hosting a two-day conference taking place at National Harbor on Tuesday and Wednesday called “The Women’s Wealth and Health Equity Summit.”
Speakers include author and commentator Julianne Malveaux; retired Rear Admiral Susan Blumenthal, a former assistant U.S. surgeon general; and Leana Wen, the Baltimore city public health commissioner.