Elijah Cummings' Widow Maya Rockeymoore May Run to Fill His Seat

Representative Elijah Cummings’ widow, Dr. Maya Rockeymoore Cummings, is expected to run for his House seat following his recent passing. Cummings, who served as Maryland’s 7th Congressional District representative for more than 20 years, passed away on October 17 at the age of 68.

Rockeymoore, the current chair of the Maryland Democratic Party, is expected to fill her husband’s congressional seat, sources told the Washington Examiner. Maryland Governor Larry Hogan (R) has 10 days to schedule a special election to fill Cummings’ vacant seat. The publication reported that Hogan is likely to schedule the election soon.

A primary election for the seat is expected for next January, with the general election being held in March 2020. Whoever wins the special election will serve out the rest of Cummings’ term, which ends in December 2020.

Cummings’ death on October 17 at Johns Hopkins Hospital of “longstanding health challenges” came as a shock. The former Baltimore attorney and civil rights advocate was the head of the House Committee on Oversight and Reform, which has taken a lead role in the investigation of President Donald Trump, NPR reported.

“Congressman Cummings was an honorable man who proudly served his district and the nation with dignity, integrity, compassion, and humility,” his widow said in a statement. “He worked until his last breath because he believed our democracy was the highest and best expression of our collective humanity and that our nation’s diversity was our promise, not our problem.”

Rockeymoore continued, “It’s been an honor to walk by his side on this incredible journey. I loved him deeply and will miss him dearly.”

The longtime Maryland Democrat has not confirmed that she will run for her late husband’s seat. According to the Washington Examiner, the Maryland Democratic Party asked for privacy for Rockeymoore and indicated that she would not make any political announcements for the time being.

“We ask the public and the press to allow Maryland Democratic Party Chair D. Maya Rockeymoore Cummings — and the rest of the Cummings family — time and space to grieve their loss,” the Maryland Democratic Party said in a statement.

However, an unnamed local political operative allegedly told the Washington Examiner that Rockeymoore does not have plans to run for the seat immediately in order to take time to mourn the loss of her husband. Those sources told the publication that Rockeymoore is expected to run during the regularly scheduled primary for the seat in April.

Cummings’ death elicited statements from politicians on both sides of the aisle. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi called Cummings “my brother in Baltimore” and said he was “a leader of towering character and integrity.”

Former President Barack Obama said he and his wife, former First Lady Michelle Obama, were heartbroken. “As Chairman of the House Oversight Committee, he showed us all not only the importance of checks and balances within our democracy, but also the necessity of good people stewarding it,” Obama said, according to NPR.

President Trump, who often clashed with the Baltimore Democrat, issued a statement on Twitter. “My warmest condolences to the family and many friends of Congressman Elijah Cummings. I got to see first hand the strength, passion, and wisdom of this highly respected political leader. His work and voice on so many fronts will be very hard, if not impossible, to replace!”

The president ordered US flags be flown at half-staff “as a mark of respect for the memory and longstanding public service of Representative Elijah E. Cummings, of Maryland.” The order, which applied to the White House and federal buildings across the country and overseas was in effect until October 18.

Meanwhile, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell called Cummings a legend who was close friends with people across the political spectrum, the Associated Press reported. Several fellow Republicans echoed those sentiments. Representative Mark Meadows (R-N.C.) said he was “heartbroken” over Cummings’ death.

In Maryland, Governor Hogan also ordered that the state’s flags fly at half-staff to “honor the life and legacy” of Cummings. “We extend our deepest sympathies to his friends, family, and colleagues,” Hogan said in a statement on Twitter.

Cummings, a Baltimore native, received a bachelor’s degree in political science from Howard University. He later received his law degree from the University of Maryland School of Law, NPR reported. Cummings served in Maryland’s House of Delegates for 13 years before winning Maryland’s 7th Congressional District for the House of Representatives in 1996.

About the Author

Nicole Rojas is a breaking news writer for The North Star. She has published in various publications, including Newsweek, GlobalPost, IHS Jane’s Defence Weekly, and the Long Island Post. Nicole graduated from Boston University in 2012 with a degree in print journalism. She is an avid world traveler who recently explored Asia and Australia.