Maya Rockeymoore Cummings might lack name recognition, political experience and money as she jumps into the crowded Democratic race for governor. But one thing she has in abundance is confidence.
The 46-year-old consulting firm owner, who plans to announce her candidacy Thursday via a web video, said she has the experience required to take the reins of state government from Republican Gov. Larry Hogan.
“I have a Ph.D. in political science with an emphasis on public policy,” she said. “I am confident on mastering any minutiae when it comes to government and policy.”
Rockeymoore Cummings will become the eighth serious contender to join the June 26 Democratic primary contest. She will be the second woman in the race, and the fifth candidate who has not previously held elected office.
While candidates have until Feb. 27 to formally file with the Maryland State Board of Elections, no other well-known Democrats have said they are mulling a run for governor.
Mileah Kromer, director of the Sarah T. Hughes Field Politics Center at Goucher College, said Rockeymoore Cummings’ entry into the race is not coming too late.
“Our polling suggests that the race is completely wide open,” Kromer said, pointing out that the campaign is just entering the stage where candidates participate in forums to introduce themselves to voters.
While the new candidate is getting a late start on fundraising, Kromer said, she will have the advantage of being married to Rep. Elijah Cummings of Baltimore, a popular figure among Democrats nationwide.
“She has the built-in advantage of her husband’s network,” Kromer said.
Rockeymoore Cummings said she will do “whatever it takes” to raise the money needed to win.
“I’m going to be working very hard to show that this is a solid campaign and a real candidacy,” she said.
Rockeymoore Cummings said she is getting into the race because under Hogan “Maryland is punching below its fighting weight.”
She said its schools are declining in quality and the state is suffering from “gross economic inequality.”
“Baltimore and Maryland families are certainly feeling very anxious,” she said. “They’re feeling the economy isn’t working for them.”
Rockeymoore Cummings said she brings to the race 13 years as a business owner. She operates the Washington-based public policy consulting company Global Policy Solutions LLC, which employs five people.
Through her firm and other activities, Rockeymoore Cummings said, she has worked to expand Social Security, take on junk food companies and improve nutrition for children, launch a small business training program for Maryland entrepreneurs and support an effort to create childhood savings accounts for Baltimore students.
She worked on Capitol Hill as chief of staff for U.S. Rep. Charlie Rangel, a New York Democrat, and on the staff of the House Ways & Means Committee. Married to Cummings for 10 years, she has adult children from a previous marriage.
“I’m not a politician but I have worked at every level of government except the state level,” Rockeymoore Cummings said. “I have worked with policy leaders in the legislative and at the executive level throughout my career.”
Rockeymoore Cummings said one of her policy specialties is health care. She said she wants a single-payer health care system adopted nationwide, but until then would work to build on Maryland’s unique all-payer system to bring it as close to universal health care as possible.
She favors allowing people who don’t qualify for Medicaid coverage because they earn too much to “buy in” to the system. She said she’d also like to see a public option added to coverage under the Affordable Care Act.
Rockeymoore Cummings said she wants to improve Maryland schools in a way that ensures all children get a good education. She said she would wait to see the recommendations of a commission looking into how the state funds its schools and would work with lawmakers to accomplish those recommendations, but would not commit to supporting revenue increases that might be necessary to carry them out.
As with her Democratic rivals, Rockeymoore Cummings’ campaign will center on a critique of Hogan’s record as governor.
“The question is what has Governor Hogan accomplished that has been truly transformative, that changes the landscape of opportunity for people throughout Maryland?” she said.
Rockeymoore Cummings said Hogan has taken the state backward in critical ways. She said he has shortchanged public transit and proposed a highway-oriented transportation plan that would do little to relieve traffic congestion.
She called Hogan’s $9 billion plan to add express toll lanes to Interstate 270, the Capital Beltway and the Baltimore-Washington Parkway “a 20th-century solution to a 21st-century problem.”
Rockeymoore Cummings said Hogan’s policies would lead to more carbon dioxide pollution.
“Global warming is real, and Governor Hogan’s proposal suggests he does not believe that,” she said.
Rockeymoore Cummings criticized Hogan’s decision to cancel the $3 billion Red Line, but would not commit to trying to revive the project as it was planned.
A MARC train commuter from her home in Madison Park to Washington, Rockeymoore Cummings said she wants to develop a regional transit plan that would connect Baltimore with Washington and Philadelphia.
Also like her Democratic rivals, Rockeymoore Cummings vowed to tie Hogan’s record to President Donald J. Trump, notwithstanding Hogan’s refusal to support his party’s nominee in the 2016 election. Since Trump took office, she said, Hogan has failed to stand up for Maryland’s economic interests, especially its dependence on a strong federal workforce.
“He has shown that his ideology trumps the needs of Maryland families,” she said.
Hogan spokesman Doug Mayer said the governor has “helped transform Maryland’s economy” by adding more than 127,000 jobs, made record investments in education, invested nearly $15 billion in transportation infrastructure including transit, worked to restore the Chesapeake Bay and has upheld tough air quality standards.
“Convincing Marylanders that we should abandon this incredible progress won’t be an easy task,” Mayer said. “Good luck.”
Rockeymoore Cummings joins a Democratic field that includes three elected officials: Prince George’s County Executive Rushern L. Baker III, Baltimore County Executive Kevin Kamenetz and state Sen. Richard S. Madaleno Jr., of Montgomery County.
The best-known novice politician in the race is Ben Jealous, former president of the NAACP. Also running are high-tech entrepreneur Alec Ross; former Venable law firm managing partner Jim Shea and Krish Vignarajah, a former policy adviser to First Lady Michelle Obama.
Rockeymoore Cummings declined to comment on the strength of the Democratic field.
“This is not about my Democratic rivals,” she said. “This is about Governor Hogan and the leadership of the state.”