ANNAPOLIS, Md. (AP) — Democrat Wes Moore was elected Maryland’s first Black governor Tuesday, defeating Republican Dan Cox in a state where Democrats outnumber Republicans 2-1.
Moore’s victory flips a governor’s office from Republican to Democratic. Of the 36 governor’s races this year, Maryland and Massachusetts represented the best chances for Democrats to regain a governor’s office at a time when the GOP holds a 28-22 edge in governor’s seats. Republican Gov. Larry Hogan is term limited.
Only two other Black politicians have ever been elected governor in the United States — Virginia’s Douglas Wilder in 1989, and Deval Patrick of Massachusetts in 2006. Democrat Stacey Abrams would become the nation’s first Black female governor if she wins her Georgia rematch against Republican Gov. Brian Kemp.
With the slogan “leave no one behind,” the combat veteran and former CEO of one of the nation’s largest anti-poverty organizations campaigned on creating equal opportunity for Maryland residents.
“When I was an Army captain and led soldiers into combat in Afghanistan, we lived by a simple principle: Leave no one behind … Real patriotism means bringing people together,” Moore told a crowd gathered in downtown Baltimore during his victory speech. “It means lifting each other up and improving each other’s lives.”
Moore’s running mate, Aruna Miller, also made Maryland history by becoming the first immigrant to win the lieutenant governor’s office. Miller, who immigrated from India, also is the first Asian-American elected statewide.
Moore, 44, defeated a first-term state legislator who was endorsed by former President Donald Trump, who only received 32% of the vote in Maryland in the 2020 presidential election.
During their only debate, Moore criticized Cox for attending the “Stop the Steal” rally on Jan. 6, 2021, before Trump supporters stormed the U.S. Capitol. Moore described Cox as “an extremist election-denier whose rhetoric and his policies are not only dangerous and divisive, but will take our state backwards.”
Kevin Holmboe, who voted for Moore in Annapolis, Maryland, cited the candidate’s resume as a former combat veteran who served in Afghanistan as well as a Rhodes scholar with a business background as qualifications that jumped out at him.
“He just had all the right things to lead me in that direction,” Holmboe, 60, said after voting for Moore.
The race was marked by Hogan’s refusal to support Cox, whom he has described as “a QAnon whack job” unfit for office.
Republican voters who supported Cox said Trump’s endorsement of the candidate was significant to them.
“Quite frankly, he’s a MAGA Republican,” said John Jacobs, 57, who voted for Cox in Annapolis, in a reference to Trump’s “Make America Great Again” slogan.
While explaining his vote for Cox, Jacobs quickly pivoted to criticizing Hogan, who is weighing a presidential bid — potentially against Trump. “And Larry Hogan, who if my life depended on it I probably wouldn’t vote for him, and I’m a Republican, for president.”
Cox organized bus trips for protesters to Washington for the “Stop the Steal” rally that preceded the Jan. 6 insurrection at the U.S. Capitol. Cox has also said Biden’s victory should not have been certified and tweeted that former Vice President Mike Pence was a “traitor.” Cox later deleted the tweet and apologized.
Other candidates who ran for governor included David Lashar, of the Libertarian Party; Nancy Wallace, of the Green Party; and David Harding, of the Working Class Party.
Meanwhile, U.S. Rep. Anthony Brown also made history in Maryland by becoming the state’s first Black attorney general. Brown defeated Republican Michael Peroutka, a former Anne Arundel County Council member.
In another open statewide race, Democrat Brooke Lierman is running against Republican Barry Glassman for comptroller, which is the state’s tax collector. The comptroller holds one of three positions on the state’s powerful Board of Public Works, along with the governor and state treasurer.
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