Rockeymoore Cummings to Enter Congressional Election, Steps Down as Party Chair

Maya Rockeymoore Cummings on MSNBC Monday night, announcing that she'll run in the 7th congressional district special election.

Minutes after The Baltimore Sun published an article Monday night reporting that Maya Rockeymoore Cummings, the widow of the late U.S. Rep. Elijah E. Cummings, plans to compete in the special election to replace him, she went on MSNBC’s “The Rachel Maddow Show” to deliver the same message to a national audience.

“Tomorrow I will announce that I’ll be running for Congress,” Rockeymoore Cummings told Maddow.

A formal announcement has been scheduled for Tuesday morning at the couple’s home in the Madison Park neighborhood of Baltimore. A campaign website, http://mayaforcongress.com/, went live Monday night.

On MSNBC, Rockeymoore Cummings, who resigned Monday night from her position as chairwoman of the Maryland Democratic Party, said she has “the ability to take the reins” and offer the same service to the 7th District – and the nation – that her husband provided. He died of cancer on Oct. 17 after battling an array of illnesses.

“I’ve fought right alongside Elijah for the past 10 years,” she said. “He wanted me to continue this fight, and I’m going to continue this fight and make the race and prayerfully win.”

Rockeymoore Cummings, 48, is a former Capitol Hill staffer who ran her own Washington, D.C.-based policy consulting shop, Global Policy Solutions LLC, for several years. She told Maddow that she has focused on issues like Social Security, health care and technology during her professional career, and worked successfully to defeat President George W. Bush’s attempts to privatize Social Security.

“I’ve been working hard in the trenches at every level of government,” Rockeymoore Cummings said.

In 2017, Rockeymoore Cummings entered the Democratic primary for governor, but dropped out a few months later, in part due to her husband’s failing health. She was elected state Democratic chairwoman 11 months ago, ousting incumbent Kathleen Matthews.

Rockeymoore Cummings becomes the third well-known Democrat to enter the Feb. 4 special Democratic primary, joining former NAACP president Kweisi Mfume – Elijah Cummings’ predecessor in Congress – and state House Majority Whip Talmadge Branch (D-Baltimore City).

State Sen. Jill P. Carter (D-Baltimore City) has created an exploratory committee for a congressional run and has been raising money for the past several days. She is expected to formally join the race next Monday.

Others could follow: The filing deadline for the special election is Nov. 20. Most of the candidates for the special election to fill out Elijah Cummings’ term are expected to file to run for a full term as well. The April 28 special general election coincides with Maryland’s regular 2020 primary election.

If Rockeymoore Cummings wins the special election, she’ll become the first Maryland woman to succeed her husband in Congress since Democrat Beverly Byron replaced her late husband, Goodloe Byron, in 1978.

Before Rockeymoore Cummings hits the campaign trail full-time, she plans to go ahead with a long-scheduled preventative double mastectomy Friday. She told Maddow that her mother died from breast cancer in 2015, and that her younger sister was recently diagnosed with the disease.

“I want to stop it in its tracks before it ever begins,” she said, adding that she expects the procedure to keep her off the campaign trail for two to four weeks.

Rockeymoore Cummings’ resignation from the Maryland Democratic Party means that state Sen. Cory V. McCray (D-Baltimore City), the first vice chairman of the state party, will take over on an interim basis.

Under the party’s bylaws, the Democratic State Central Committee must meet within the next 60 days to elect a permanent chair.

“I am confident that the party will demonstrate stability and continuity of service in the weeks ahead, as we build for the 2020 elections by fundraising and organizing around the state, and lift up the General Assembly’s legislative priorities as we prepare to enter the 2020 legislative session,” McCray said in a statement Monday night.

[email protected]

Josh Kurtz
Co-founder and Editor Josh Kurtz is the leading chronicler of Maryland politics and government. He began covering the State House in 1995 for The Gazette newspapers, and has been writing about state and local politics ever since. He later became an editor at Roll Call, the Capitol Hill newspaper, and spent eight years at E&E News, an online subscription-only publisher of news websites covering energy and environmental issues. For seven of those years, he led a staff of 20 reporters at E&E Daily, which covers energy and environmental policy on Capitol Hill and in national politics. For 6 1/2 years he wrote a weekly column on state politics for Center Maryland and has written for several other Maryland publications as well. Kurtz has given speeches and appeared on TV and radio shows about Maryland politics through the years.