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Elijah Cummings's widow, Maya Rockeymoore, expected to run for his House seat

Washington Examiner logo Washington Examiner 10/19/2019 Alana Goodman
Maya Rockeymoore, Elijah Cummings are posing for a picture: Rep. Elijah Cummings and his wife, Maya Rockeymoore, are shown on Capitol Hill in 2015. © Provided by MediaDC: Washington Newspaper Publishing Company, Inc. Rep. Elijah Cummings and his wife, Maya Rockeymoore, are shown on Capitol Hill in 2015.

Rep. Elijah Cummings’s widow, Maya Rockeymoore, is seen as the most likely successor to fill his congressional seat after his passing on Thursday, sources tell the Washington Examiner.

Rockeymoore, 48, who is currently the chair of the Maryland Democratic Party, has a history of political involvement and ran unsuccessfully for Maryland governor in 2017. She married Cummings in 2008.

Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan has 10 days to schedule a special election for Cummings’s seat and will likely set the date by the middle of next week, according to state political sources. The primary election is expected to take place next January and the general election in March.

The winner of the special election will serve out of the remainder of Cummings’s term, which expires in December of 2020. A regularly scheduled primary for the following term will take place next April.

Rockeymoore has not yet addressed the speculation that she will run for her husband’s seat. The Maryland Democratic Party released a statement on Friday asking for privacy for Rockeymoore and indicating that she would not be making any political announcements for the time being.

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“We ask the public and the press to allow Maryland Democratic Party Chair Dr. Maya Rockeymoore Cummings — and the rest of the Cummings family — time and space to grieve their loss,” said the party, according to Patch.

One political operative said Rockeymoore is not planning to run for the seat immediately as she takes time to grieve the loss of her husband.

“Word is that Maya Rockeymoore will pass on the special election,” a long-time Maryland operative told the Washington Examiner.

But sources do expect Rockeymoore to run in the previously scheduled election for the seat in April and believe other potential candidates will make room for her out of respect for her and her late husband. Another prominent Maryland Democrat, former NAACP president Ben Jealous, said on Friday that he does not plan to run for the seat.

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If Rockeymoore does run, critics are likely to seize on financial irregularities involving her charity and consulting firm that led one watchdog group to file an IRS complaint against her earlier this year. Rockeymoore’s nonprofit group, the Center for Global Policy Solutions, received millions from special interest groups and corporations that had business before her husband’s committee, the Washington Examiner first reported in May.

Her nonprofit group and similarly-named consulting firm, Global Policy Solutions LLC, also had overlapping finances and operations that could have been used to derive "illegal private benefit,” according to an IRS complaint filed by the National Legal and Policy Center.

As chair of the Maryland Democratic Party, Rockeymoore will also play a powerful role in deciding whom the party supports in the special election — and could ensure that the party backs a place-holder candidate who would be willing to step aside if and when Rockeymoore decides to run in the spring.

Rockeymoore "has a lot of control over who the placeholder is,” said the Maryland operative, who said one name that has been floated is former Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake.

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