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Maya Rockeymore Cummings Declares Run For Husband Elijah’s Congress Seat

AP/Julio Cortez

Maya Rockeymoore Cummings joined an ever growing field of candidates today running to represent to represent Maryland’s 7th Congressional District, a seat last occupied by her late husband, Elijah Cummings.

Backed by family and supporters on a spiral staircase inside her Madison Park home, the Democrat said she was devastated from her husband’s loss and that she’ll run the race as if he were right beside her. 

Cummings died Oct. 17 in the midst of his 13th term after a battle with cancer. 

The widow said in an appearance Monday on MSNBC’s “The Rachel Maddow Show” her husband told her he wanted her to take over his seat about six months before he died, she said.

“I believe very strongly that I have the background and the focus and the commitment and the ability to take the reins and make a good run for this seat,” she told Maddow. “I fought right alongside Elijah for the last 12 years, and we knew each other another 10 years before that. I’ve been on this path.”

She said during her announcement today her priorities will include improving education and healthcare throughout the 7th District, and that she will center her efforts on protecting Social Security and Medicare.

Rockeymoore Cummings, 48, resigned as chair of the Maryland Democratic Party, a post she held for about a year, Monday night to pursue the congressional race.

She is also a strategist and policy consultant. She founded the Washington consulting firm Global Policy Solutions LLC in 2005.

Rockeymoore Cummings entered the Democratic primary race for governor in the fall of 2017, but dropped out of the crowded race in January 2018, citing her husband’s declining health.

She earned a doctorate in political science at Purdue University. She worked as an aide on Capitol Hill and also worked at the National Urban League and the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation. She served as board chair of the National Committee to Preserve Social Security and Medicare.

At her announcement, Rockeymoore Cummings said she will have a preventative double mastectomy Friday that will take require about four weeks of recovery. Her mother died from breast cancer in 2015 and her sister was diagnosed with it last year. She lost a friend to breast cancer at just 40 years old, she said.

“As a promise to them and as a promise to me I’m going to make sure I am well,” she said.

She said she’ll appear on the campaign trail more often after her recovery.

The district includes about half of Baltimore City and parts of Baltimore and Howard counties. 

Other Democrats in the 7th District field include Kweisi Mfume, the former NAACP head who occupied the seat from 1987 until 1996, Harry Spikes, a Cummings aide, and State Delegate Talmadge Branch.

State Senator Jill Carter has said she’s formed an exploratory committee for the race and is scheduled to make a special announcement next week.

Kimberly Klacik, a Republican from Baltimore County whose video of West Baltimore blight caught the eye of President Trump who then ignited a Twitter firestorm, is also running in the blue district.

In addition, three Republicans and eight Democrats have filed to run in the primary.

Candidates have until Nov. 20 to file to run in the special primary to serve the remainder of Cummings’ term. The primary will be held Feb. 4. The special general election will be April 28, alongside the regular primary for the rest of the state’s U.S. House seats.

Emily Sullivan is a city hall reporter at WYPR, where she covers all things Baltimore politics. She joined WYPR after reporting for NPR’s national airwaves. There, she was a reporter for NPR’s news desk, business desk and presidential conflicts of interest team. Sullivan won a national Edward R. Murrow Award for an investigation into a Trump golf course's finances alongside members of the Embedded team. She has also won awards from the Chesapeake Associated Press Broadcasters Association for her use of sound and feature stories. She has provided news analysis on 1A, The Takeaway, Here & Now and All Things Considered.
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