In ten days, the Democratic Party of Maryland may have a completely different make-up than the current leadership, at least if a certain faction of the party gets its way.
Coming off one of their most ambitiously successful campaign seasons, Maryland Democrats are still hungover by the celebration of having so many progressive politicians win individual county executive seats, as well as picking up seats in the House of Delegates. And despite losing a seat in the state senate, as well as the governor’s race, the party leadership can proudly tout the victories they were responsible for helping to secure during the recent General Election.
However, it seems as if some younger and more progressive Democrats believe that the party can do better? And under their leadership, it will be a party more reflective of the changing demographics that helped steer the recent ‘blue wave’ witnessed across Maryland.
And the person looking to steer that democratic tugboat over the next four years is the wife of one of Maryland’s most distinguished Congressman, Elijah Cummings. According to party insiders, Maya Rockeymoore-Cummings – who earlier this year suspended her own gubernatorial campaign due to the health conditions of her aging husband – has submitted her name for consideration to become the state party’s new chairwoman.
She will be challenging the party’s current chairwoman, Kathleen Matthews – who is married to MSNBC reporter Chris Matthews – and who has led the party since the departure of former chairman D. Bruce Poole om 2017. After a successful election cycle, Matthews is now vying to win her own four-year term as party chairwoman during next weekend’s election of party officers – but she will face stiff competition with the beautiful and charismatic Rockeymoore-Cummings whipping votes, almost certainly with the help of her powerful husband.
However, Matthews may benefit from a possible racial divide in the race, as it appears another African American female has entered the race? Theresa Dudley, the President of the Prince George’s County Educator’s Association and the first vice-chair of the county’s democratic state central committee, has reportedly also filed to run to be the next chairwoman of the state party. And if she and Mrs. Rockeymoore-Cummings divide up the Baltimore City and Prince George’s County delegation, along with the African American members of Charles County and other regions, Mrs. Matthews may very well find enough votes in the remainder of the state’s central committee membership to win on the first ballot.
According to the party rules, if no candidate wins a majority vote on the first ballot, then a second ballot shall be called for with the candidate with the least number of votes being eliminated from the succeeding vote. Maryland has twenty-three counties, and Baltimore City, each being represented by voting members who make up that jurisdictions democratic state central committee. Larger regions such as Montgomery and Baltimore County have more members than smaller regions such as Kent and Somerset County; however, each member has a vote, and the winning candidate will need a simple majority to win the position they seek.
Besides Party Chair, there will also be an election for the three vice-chair positions, as well as for Secretary and Deputy Secretary, along with Treasurer and Deputy Treasurer. The Party rules require that there be a geographical balance, ensuring that at least one officer represents Western Maryland (Garrett, Allegany, Washington, Frederick, Carroll and Howard counties), Southern Maryland (St. Mary’s, Charles, Calvert and Anne Arundel counties), the Eastern Shore (Cecil, Harford, Kent, Queen Anne’s, Caroline, Talbot Dorchester, Wicomico, Somerset and Worcester counties), as well as Baltimore County, Baltimore City, Montgomery and Prince George’s County.
The rules also dictate that if a female is elected Chair, then a male is required to be the party’s 1stVice-Chairman, a position currently held by an African American male from Baltimore City, Scherod Barnes. And yet, while he is running for re-election, he is being challenged by another African American man from Baltimore City – newly elected state senator Cory McCray.
Barnes, a 70-year old East Baltimore native, who recently served two-terms as the Chairman of Baltimore City’s Democratic State Central Committee, says that he was shocked to learn he was being challenged by one of his own; but said that the news of McCray’s sudden inclusion wasn’t going to deter him from seeking re-election. “I know I may have ruffled a few feathers within the party leadership; however, I’m not going to roll-over and let the party take blacks for granted, especially given the fact that African Americans have traditionally been then most loyal voting bloc for Democrats across this state, and country for that matter; and what exactly do we have to show for it?”
McCray on the other hand is a part of a younger, more progressive group of democratic political candidates who recently defeated their older democratic colleagues in this year’s primary election. Two years after their political club witnessed the successful elimination of old-school politicians such as Pete Welch (9th) and Warren Branch (13th), they came back with a successful sweep of the old-guard state politicians this year, defeating incumbent state senators Barbara Robinson (40th), Joan Carter Conway (43rd) and Nathaniel McFadden (who McCray defeated in the 45th).
And while Barnes remains a loyal member of the old-school political machine, having a close relationship with outgoing state senator Conway; he has remained rather neutral in his approach to governance, being one of the most straight-forward and consistently reliable members of the party. However, it appears as if the newly elected state senator is looking to eliminate the last remaining member of Baltimore City’s old guard?
“I am putting my name forward as a candidate for Vice-Chair so that I can continue the efforts I have embodied as a public servant here in the City of Baltimore, which has been to be deliberately focused on making sure that our most vulnerable communities aren’t left behind when important decisions are being made, and resources are allocated,” said McCray in a statement given exclusively to DMVDaily. “As engaged members of the community, we have two options: complain about the things we want to see changed, or work tirelessly to lay the foundation for the future we wish to see. My candidacy reflects the latter of those two, and I look forward to being a part of this important process.”
Will Barnes or McCray run on a ticket formed by Matthews, Rockeymoore-Cummings or Dudley; or will they single-shoot and try to achieve success? Find out next Saturday, December 1st beginning at 10:00 a.m. as DMVDaily.news will be reporting LIVE from the Democratic Party elections, being held at the IBEW Local 26, located at: 4371 Parliament Place, Lanham, MD 20706.
**McCray responded to our inquiry after the article was published, and said that he will be supporting Chairwoman Kathleen Matthews over Maya and Theresa, and here is why:
“Across the State of Maryland, where Democrats picked up eight House seats, only losing one Senate seat and won multiple county executive, county council and commissioner seats, which was no small feat; it took for the hard work and commitment of extraordinary individuals across the state, led by a super extraordinary leader, Kathleen Matthews,” says Senator-elect McCray. “Having put more than 30,000 miles on her car crisscrossing the state to get Democrats elected, she has met the challenge of being the Party leader head-on, and she has my full support as the party’s next chairwoman.”
– Cory McCray, Senator-Elect 45th Legislative District