Maya Rockeymoore Cummings, the widow of Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-Md.), said she’s running to replace her husband as the representative of Maryland’s 7th Congressional District.
“I am, of course, devastated at the loss of my spouse, but his spirit is with me,” Rockeymoore Cummings told The Baltimore 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.”
Rockeymoore Cummings, 48, is chairwoman of the Maryland Democratic Party, a position she’s held since December 2018. She ran for governor in 2018, but dropped out when her husband was hospitalized.
She had earlier told The Washington Post that she was “thinking carefully” about running for the seventh district seat. A seat her husband had held for over two decades.
Rep. Cummings died Oct. 17 at the age of 68. He had been suffering from longstanding health issues before his death, according to a spokesperson. Cummings previously had heart and knee surgery but developed an infection following the latter, according to reports.
Rockeymoore Cummings told The Baltimore Sun that her husband told her months before his death that he would like for her to take up his role after he died.
“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 said she would focus on issues that include battling the opioid crisis, and others related to health and education policy, the paper reported.
She also said she had scheduled a preventative double mastectomy for Nov. 15, which may take up to four weeks away from her campaign trail. She cited a family history of breast cancer in her mother and sister, adding that her mother died from the disease in 2015.
The filing deadline for the Maryland seat is Nov. 20. A special primary election for the late Cummings’ seat
will be held Feb. 4, with a special general election on April 28. Cummings’ term is set to conclude in January 2021.
President Donald Trump has said that Cummings would be difficult to replace.
“My warmest condolences to the family and many friends of Congressman Elijah Cummings,” Trump said in a statement on Oct. 17, following the congressman’s death. “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!”
Trump, on Oct. 25 praised Cummings for his work to reduce prescription drug prices, noting that the congressman “had a very strong passion” for the issue—something Trump himself wants to accomplish.
“I have rarely seen anybody want to do something like that, and we are going to have that done,” Trump said at the time, during an event at a criminal justice reform forum in Columbia, South Carolina.
Trump and Cummings were at odds politically. Cummings was chairman of the House Oversight and Reform Committee, one of several House committees that have been trying to find wrongdoing on the part of the president amid a Democrat-led impeachment inquiry.
Meanwhile, the president was critical of Cummings during this past summer for his alleged neglect related to trash-strewn streets and decaying buildings in Baltimore, which is part of that congressional district.
Zachary Stieber and Janita Kan contributed to this report.