Baltimore was dealt a devastating blow with the unexpected death of U.S. Rep. Elijah Cummings in October, and as the city that Donald Trump once belittled as “a disgusting, rat and rodent-infested mess” recovers from the loss of its longstanding congressman, a familiar face has announced her intention to continue his legacy.
The Baltimore Sun reports that Cummings’ widow, Maryland Democratic Party Chairwoman Maya Rockeymoore Cummings, will run for her late husband’s congressional seat.
“I am, of course, devastated at the loss of my spouse, but his spirit is with me,” she told the Sun. “I’m going to run this race and I’m going to run it hard, as if he’s still right here by my side.”
For those surprised by the former Congressional Black Caucus fellow’s announcement, don’t be—she also revealed that her late husband expressed his desire for her to succeed him months before his death.
“That was a discussion we had some months ago,” she said. “In the end, he was conflicted about whether he should resign or stay in office. We thought there might be a turnaround. It didn’t happen.”
Rockeymoore Cummings will begin her campaign on Tuesday and, according to the Sun, it will be built on issues that were important to her husband as well as capitalize on her own acuity and experience:
She will focus on issues important to the late congressman, such as battling the opioid crisis and “fighting for the soul of our democracy” against the Trump administration, but also on her areas of expertise, which include health and education policy.
The 48-year-old public policy consultant has until Nov. 20 to file to run in a special Feb. 4 primary for Cummings’ 7th District seat and in order to avoid any conflicts of interest or accusations of favoritism, she will soon resign as chairwoman of the state Democratic Party.
Should Rockeymoore Cummings win her bid for her late husband’s seat, she would be the only woman in Maryland’s all-male congressional delegation. Mileah Kromer, director of the Sarah T. Hughes Field Politics Center at Goucher College, believes it’s time for a change.
“Dr. Rockeymoore Cummings is an accomplished individual in her own right. She is not just the wife of a congressman. She has the appropriate background for somebody to run for Congress,” Kromer said. “It’s time for not only a woman, but a person with an actual track record of advocacy on the issues of justice and equality that most candidates only talk about.”
And Rockeymoore Cummings is eager to continue her husband’s fight.
“I am a fighter,” she said Monday. “I don’t shy away from the label. I will continue to press on and fight. I will fight the Trump administration, which is trying to undermine the social safety net.”