The state of Maryland has a reputation for being one of the most progressive states in the nation. According to wallethub.com this year, the state has the second-fewest children in foster care, ranks fourth among best teen drivers and fourth per capita with the most dentists.
However, voters in the state still haven’t elected a Black or a woman for governor. Maya Rockeymoore Cummings seeks to change both, starting with the June 26 Democratic primary election.
Cummings, 46, also wants to educate voters she’s more than just a name as the wife to longtime Rep. Elijah Cummings.
The political novice proudly proclaims her HBCU undergraduate education at Prairie View A&M University in Prairie View, Texas.
After she received her master’s degree and doctorate at Purdue University in West Lafayette, Indiana, in 1996 and 2000, respectively, she worked as a congressional aide and chief of staff for Rep. Charles Rangel (D-N.Y.); a senior resident scholar with the National Urban League; and vice president of research and programs with the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation.
For the past 13 years, Rockeymoore Cummings has managed her own policy consulting firm in northwest D.C. She received an endorsement Oct. 30 from Emily’s List, a national political action committee that helps finance women in politics.
“From her initial interviews, this is somebody who is ready for prime time,” said Mileah Kromer, director of the Sarah T. Hughes Field Politics Center at Goucher College in Towson. “I see someone who is qualified [and] separate from her husband. I am interested to see where she campaigns at, where her constituency is and if she can appeal to a large section of African-American females in Baltimore City, Baltimore County and in [Prince George’s] County.”
Cummings joins a crowded Democratic slate to challenge Republican Gov. Larry Hogan that includes Prince George’s County Executive Rushern L. Baker III, former NAACP President Ben Jealous, Baltimore County Executive Kevin Kamenetz, state Sen. Richard Madaleno of Montgomery County, technology entrepreneur Alec Ross, attorney James Shea and Krishanti Vignarajah, policy director for former first lady Michelle Obama.
One day ahead of Cummings’ appearance in Lanham before the Democratic Party State Central Committee alongside her seven opponents, she spoke on a variety of topics in an interview Friday, Nov. 3. She supports a $15 minimum wage, universal pre-K and minority representation in the medical cannabis industry.
Here are some of her thoughts in her own words:
We are fighting below our punching weight in Maryland. We can do better than Gov. Hogan. He has done nothing to change the landscape of opportunity in Maryland. We still have deep pockets of inequality from the Eastern Shore to Western Maryland and Baltimore City and other pockets in between. We need a governor who has the sensitivity to the issues. How to address the challenges facing the state in a way that builds our economy from the bottom up and from the middle out. I don’t understand why people think he has a decent track record among moderates when he is anti-public education. He’s been anti-women’s health. He’s been anti-working families. He’s been anti-voting rights. He’s been anti-environment. Why do moderates think that he has been good for them when he hasn’t? The fact of the matter is that Gov. Hogan is [a] deeply red conservative Republican in a blue state. We can’t afford to have him in office for a second term when he would be in charge of the redistricting process and he would likely flip at least two congressional seats from Democratic to Republican and probably change the character of the state legislature if he could.
I am coming at this from a holistic platform. My approach is called an inclusive growth strategy. Education is just one of the planks on my platform. We need an excellent education that is provided and offered consistently to all schools and young people across the state and we currently do not have that. All of the young people need a solid foundation, so universal pre-K will be a part of my solution. The quality and content of the K-12 educational experience needs to be upgraded dramatically. We need to improve the career and technical education aspects of our junior high and high school experiences so that our young adults are connected solidly to the world of work and jobs of the future. Whether that be through post-secondary opportunities that include two-year education, two-year university, four-year college, or certification programs that don’t require college. Currently we don’t have any intentional strategy for our public schools that link them to Maryland’s economy. There’s no plan for our young people to plug into our economy. Nobody is looking at what the job opportunities are in the state, what the jobs of the future are for the state and then encouraging colleges and universities to prepare those young people for those opportunities, or even high school students to get exposure to those opportunities on the high school level. The full development of our young people is our biggest asset.
What working families need, especially low-income families, is a living wage that allows them to not have to work two or three jobs. They’re spending all of their waking time trying to make ends meet. They are not fully productive, they’re tired and need help. If they have jobs that actually pay better, then that reduces that stresses and allows them to be more productive. I am solidly behind the Maryland Black Caucus [agenda for Black ownership in the medical cannabis industry]. The original guidance in the original law did specify that there should be minority ownership goals within the implementation. Gov. Hogan did not do anything. The administration did not do anything to allow that to happen. The reason why this is important is because the history of marijuana in this country has been completely diverse. And yet, as soon as it becomes legalized, it becomes only an opportunity for white people. That is actually not appropriate. We should make sure that we have opportunities for all people to participate. By the way, the medical marijuana industry is the gateway to the legal marijuana industry. There should be equitable opportunities for all people of all backgrounds to participate in this next great wealth-building opportunity.