Maya Rockeymoore Cummings Runs For Late Rep. Elijah Cummings Seat In Maryland Maya Rockeymoore Cummings says she had talked with her husband about campaigning for Maryland's 7th District. The announcement comes days before she is set to have a preventive double mastectomy.
NPR logo Elijah Cummings' Widow Announces She's Running For His U.S. House Seat

Elijah Cummings' Widow Announces She's Running For His U.S. House Seat

Maya Rockeymoore Cummings speaks during funeral services for the late U.S. Rep. Elijah Cummings last month in Baltimore. Julio Cortez/AP hide caption

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Julio Cortez/AP

Maya Rockeymoore Cummings speaks during funeral services for the late U.S. Rep. Elijah Cummings last month in Baltimore.

Julio Cortez/AP

Rep. Elijah Cummings' widow is resigning her post as chair of Maryland's Democratic Party to run for her late husband's congressional seat.

Maya Rockeymoore Cummings formally announced her candidacy Tuesday morning in Baltimore.

Cummings died last month from long-standing health issues. He was 68. The Democratic congressman who came to be synonymous with Baltimore represented Maryland's 7th Congressional District, which includes large swaths of the city and its suburbs, for more than 20 years.

Ahead of her announcement, Rockeymoore Cummings said during an interview with MSNBC on Monday evening that she and her husband had discussed the possibility of her running for the seat about six months ago.

"I've been on this path for fighting for the soul of our democracy, for fighting for health care, education, for a better America for all," Rockeymoore Cummings told MSNBC.

"And so he wanted me to continue this fight, and I'm going to continue this fight and run the race and, prayerfully, win," she said.

Her announcement comes on the eve of two substantial events this week.

The first is the start of the public impeachment hearings where William Taylor, the acting U.S. ambassador to Ukraine, known in official circles as the chargé d'affaires, and Deputy Assistant Secretary for European and Eurasian Affairs George Kent are set to testify before House lawmakers Wednesday.

Prior to his death, Cummings was chairman of the House Oversight Committee, one of the three panels leading the impeachment inquiry into President Trump.

The inquiry was launched as part of a House-led probe into whether the president committed any wrongdoing when he asked Ukraine's president to investigate one of Trump's political rivals as military funding to Ukraine was being withheld.

The second event comes later this week, when Rockeymoore Cummings is scheduled to have a preventive double mastectomy.

Rockeymoore Cummings told The Baltimore Sun that her mother succumbed to breast cancer in 2015 and that her sister was diagnosed with it last year.

"I'm going to take the time I need to heal and do what I can behind the scenes to make sure my campaign is strong," she told the Sun. "It's going to be a sprint election."

She told the newspaper that she expects to be off the campaign trail for up to four weeks as she recovers.

Candidates have until Nov. 20 to file for the Maryland special election to serve out the remainder of Cummings' term, which goes through early January 2021.

The primary in the heavily Democratic district is scheduled for Feb. 4, 2020, with the special general election on Feb. 28.

Rockeymoore Cummings also ran for the Democratic nomination for Maryland governor before bowing out of the race in early 2018, citing personal reasons. Local media later reported that the suspension of her campaign was linked to her husband's illness.

The Democratic nomination was eventually won by former NAACP President Ben Jealous, who was roundly defeated by Republican incumbent Gov. Larry Hogan.

As with her gubernatorial run, Rockeymoore Cummings enters a crowded Democratic field for the U.S. House seat. Prominent names include Harry Spikes, who worked as a staffer for Cummings, and former NAACP President Kweisi Mfume, who represented the 7th District from 1987 to 1996 and was succeeded by Cummings in a special election.