Democracy Dies in Darkness

Md-politics

Maya Rockeymoore, wife of Rep. Elijah Cummings, weighs run for Md. governor

July 18, 2017 at 6:16 PM

Maya Rockeymoore, center, stands between her husband, Rep. Elijah E. Cummings (D-Md.), right, and House Speaker John A. Boehner in 2015 during a reenactment of taking the House oath of office. Rockeymoore is considering a run for Maryland governor, associates say. (Susan Walsh/AP)

Maya Rockeymoore, a policy consultant who is married to longtime U.S. Rep. Elijah E. Cummings (D-Md.), says she is weighing a run for Maryland governor in 2018.

Rockeymoore, 46, would be the first woman to join what is shaping up to be a crowded Democratic primary field that includes five declared candidates. Three current and former elected officials also have said they are considering bids for the Democratic nomination to challenge popular incumbent Gov. Larry Hogan (R).

"I'm seriously looking at this race because I have a bold vision for a better, stronger Maryland," she said in a statement provided to The Washington Post. "I firmly believe that Maryland is ready for a different kind of leader."

No woman currently holds any of Maryland's four statewide elected executive positions. And, for the first time since 1941, the state has no women serving in its congressional delegation.

Rockeymoore is president and chief executive at Global Policy Solutions, a consulting firm based in Washington, D.C. Her interest in the race was first reported by the political blog Maryland Matters. She did not return requests for comment on Tuesday, but she provided the statement late in the day through Shawna Watley, a close family friend who works as a federal lobbyist.

Watley said that Rockeymoore is talking to friends and "key people she respects throughout the state" and that "if she makes a decision to run, we will know in short order."

Watley said if Rockeymoore decides to run, "she is running to win."

A Democratic political operative who has talked to Rockeymoore about a potential run said a key factor in her considerations is Rockeymoore's belief that the primary should include a female candidate.

"A lot of people don't want to see a race of this magnitude go by without a woman's perspective," said the operative, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because Rockeymoore had not authorized the conversation. "She's looking for a way to serve and a way to magnify and affect things important to her."

Rockeymoore, a former adjunct political science professor at American University, is not widely known in Maryland political circles apart from her husband. Although the primary is still nearly a year away, some Maryland politicians said Tuesday that she would be getting a relatively late start on fundraising and name recognition.

Jill Carter, a former delegate from Baltimore, called Rockeymoore a "dynamic woman" but said that "just being married to Elijah Cummings is not enough to elevate her to the top."

According to her firm's website, Rockeymoore is an expert on health, income security, education, women's issues and youth civic participation.

She previously served as chief of staff to New York congressman Charles B. Rangel (D) and as vice president of research and programs at the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation.

Rockeymoore's name was mentioned last year as a possible candidate to fill Cummings's seat if he entered the race to succeed U.S. Sen. Barbara A. Mikulski (D). Cummings did not seek the seat, which is now held by Sen. Chris Van Hollen (D).

If she enters the governor's race, Rockeymoore would join a field that includes Prince George's County Executive Rushern L. Baker III; former NAACP president Benjamin Jealous, who recently won an endorsement from Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.); State Sen. Richard S. Madaleno Jr. (D-Montgomery); entrepreneur Alec Ross; and attorney James Shea.

U.S. Rep. John Delaney, former state attorney general Doug Gansler and Baltimore County Executive Kevin Kamenetz are also weighing bids for the 2018 Democratic nomination.

Elijah Cummings, 66, has been recovering at home and at Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore since undergoing a heart procedure on May 24, an aide said. He has been in contact with his staff and carrying out many of his congressional duties remotely. The aide did not say when he is expected to return to Capitol Hill.

Jenna Portnoy contributed to this report.


Josh Hicks covered Maryland politics and government, focusing on the governor and state legislature. He left The Washington Post in March 2018. He previously anchored The Post’s Federal Eye blog, focusing on federal accountability and workforce issues.

Ovetta Wiggins covers Maryland state politics in Annapolis. She came to The Washington Post in 2003 and previously worked at the Philadelphia Inquirer and the Bergen Record in New Jersey.

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