The Maryland Democratic Party turned to a prior party leader to guide it through the next two elections.
The Maryland Democratic State Central Committee on Saturday elected Yvette Lewis, who was the party’s chairwoman from 2011 through 2015, to serve as party chairwoman again through December 2022.
Speaking after she was overwhelmingly elected, Lewis cautioned Democrats that they’ll need to work hard and stay united to propel Democratic candidates to victory in the next two elections.
“Any interaction and any conversation and any action that we have that is not focused on that is a colossal waste of time that we don’t have,” Lewis said. “We have a short window to get this done, a very short window, and every minute we spend not focusing on winning is a minute lost.”
Lewis said she wants to build a party that welcomes both Democrats who “strayed” and those who have “stayed.”
Lewis said many party members had encouraged her to “step in and help” by running for the party chairmanship.
Lewis replaces the previous chairwoman, Maya Rockeymoore Cummings, who resigned in order to run for the seat in Congress made vacant by the death of her husband, U.S. Rep. Elijah Cummings, this fall.
Since Rockeymoore Cummings resigned on Nov. 11, the party had been led on an interim basis by Sen. Cory McCray of Baltimore, who was the party’s first vice chairman. In his short tenure as acting chairman, McCray canceled contracts with consultants and instituted financial controls after he found the party was outspending its resources.
“I knew that critical decisions need to be made,” McCray said Saturday.
Rockeymoore Cummings and her allies have defended her management of the party, saying she made important investments in energizing Democratic voters across the state.
In a written pitch to party members distributed before the vote, Lewis stressed her fundraising success during her time as chair, saying she raised $5 million in total for the Democrats.
Maryland Policy & Politics
In a speech before the vote, Lewis spoke about her love for the Democratic Party and promised her leadership would be focused on a “party first” ideal that she learned from former Gov. Martin O’Malley. Lewis’ prior term as party chair overlapped with O’Malley’s tenure as governor.
“It will always be first and foremost to me: Party first,” Lewis said in her speech to party members. “Party first in outreach. Party first in engagement. Party first in winning. Party first in mobilizing. Party first in organizing. Party first in getting out the vote. Party first in bringing forth the best candidates we can bring. Party first in getting rid of the orange one in the White House. Party first in taking back Government House and winning up and down the ticket in 2022.”
Lewis defeated Tony Puca of Montgomery County, who has unsuccessfully run for several offices.