Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-Md.) is currently hospitalized, three sources told POLITICO, the latest setback in a string of health issues that have plagued the longtime lawmaker since last year.
Maya Rockeymoore Cummings, a Democratic policy consultant, suspended her bid for governor of Maryland on Friday shortly before news surfaced that her husband was in the hospital.
It is unclear whether Cummings’ hospitalization is related to heart issues that sidelined him for months last year or is due to an unrelated health issue. Cummings’ office did not respond to multiple requests for comment other than to refer questions to Rockeymoore Cummings’ campaign.
In a statement announcing plans to suspend her campaign, Rockeymoore Cummings cited personal issues but did not elaborate.
“Making a positive and direct contribution to the state of Maryland and to our nation was my greatest motivating factor for stepping into the public arena. Unfortunately, due to personal considerations, I am suspending my bid for governor of Maryland,” she said in an email to supporters.
Multiple sources said Rockeymoore Cummings' decision to leave the race was linked to her husband’s health issues. Democratic aides said Cummings appeared to be moving more slowly before the Christmas break.
Cummings, 66, was hospitalized last May after what his office described at the time as a “minimally invasive” heart valve replacement. He was scheduled to return to work shortly after but ended up missing several months due to a post-op infection that kept him away from Capitol Hill until September.
Upon his return, Cummings was noticeably slimmer and said he’d have to maintain a stricter diet and get more sleep. But he brushed aside any notion that he wasn’t able to fully perform his job.
Cummings has represented his hometown Baltimore in the House since 1996. He is well liked and respected among both parties, even as he's sparred with Republicans over contentious issues as the top Democrat on the House Oversight Committee.
Rockeymoore Cummings was one of nine Democrats vying to unseat Republican Gov. Larry Hogan. She was endorsed by EMILY’s List soon after she jumped into the race in October. But Rep. Cummings was the gubernatorial candidate's biggest single surrogate both publicly and in terms of fundraising. The congressman was listed as a headliner for an upcoming fundraiser for Rockeymoore Cummings on Sunday.
Despite the support of the prominent Democratic congressman, Rockeymoore Cummings wasn't the irrefutable front-runner in the primary. In early polling of the Democratic primary, she trailed candidates including former NAACP President Ben Jealous and Prince George’s County Executive Rushern Baker.
Despite a large primary and the general Democratic lean of Maryland, Democrats aren't as optimistic about unseating Hogan as they are about beating incumbent Republicans in states such as Illinois, New Mexico, or Maine. That's largely because Hogan is popular: An October poll by Morning Consult listed him as the governor with the second-highest approval in the country, behind only Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker.