By Julius Washington
Howard University News Service
BALTIMORE – Wes Moore was declared the winner of Maryland’s gubernatorial election by the Associated Press, seconds after polls closed in Maryland. Unofficial results from the Maryland Board of Elections show Moore leading by 32 points with 99.9 percent of precincts reporting.
With the win, he will become the first Black governor in the state’s history and only the third elected Black governor in the country’s history, following Deval Patrick in Massachusetts and Douglas Wilder in Virginia. (New York Lt. Gov. David Paterson was elevated to governor after the resignation of Gov. Eliot Spitzer amid a prostitution scandal.)
“Maryland has made history,” House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer said. “This election is a historic election because of the color of the new governor’s skin. This is a great election for our state, because of the content of his character.”
The energy in the room never dwindled and at times speakers could barely be heard over the din of the crowd. But all was silent when Moore took the microphone, around two hours after the polls closed in Maryland.
“It’s because you believed that I stand here, humbled and ready to become the 63rd governor of the state of Maryland,” Moore announced to cheers.
Republican nominee Dan Cox did not immediately concede the race and his running mate, Gordana Schifanelli, called the race projection from the Associated Press “fake news” and shared misleading screenshots on her Twitter account.
By Wednesday morning, Schifanelli conceded in a tweet, wishing the Democratic ticket congratulations and remarking “I sincerely hope they succeed in their promise to the voters that they will leave no one behind.”
Cox issued a lengthy statement on Twitter, conceding the race and congratulating both Moore and Miller on their victory, but also spent much of the two-page statement expressing shock at the magnitude of the defeat.
“We are struggling to understand how Maryland could fail to turnout on the GOP/unaffiliated side as is now being reported,” Cox said.
Larry Hogan, the outgoing Republican governor, called Moore to congratulate him on the victory before he took the stage to address his assembled supporters.
For Moore, his victory is the culmination of a life that has included many roles. He is a combat veteran of the Afghanistan War, a former White House fellow, a bestselling author and former CEO of the anti-poverty organization Robin Hood.
Some experts and pundits saw the result as a foregone conclusion, with Moore holding a lead as high as 30 points in late polls. His Republican opponent, Dan Cox, failed to secure Hogan’s support, but received a full-throated endorsement from former President Donald Trump.
Moore spent Election Day canvassing the state, part of a frequent campaign pledge to run “like we are 10 points behind.” A contingent of Maryland elected officials joined Moore during his Election Day tour across the state, including Baltimore Mayor Brandon Scott and Rep. Dutch Ruppersberger, Md.-2.
Moore was the beneficiary of a host of high-profile endorsements, including an pre-election night rally that included President Joe Biden, Senators Ben Cardin and Chris Van Hollen, and House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer. Oprah Winfrey, who notably endorsed Senator-elect John Fetterman in the final week of the campaign, was an early supporter of Moore, backing him during the crowded July primary.
The Victory Party
Inside the Baltimore Marriott Waterfront, the assembled crowd of over 1,000 was in full party mode, cheering when results from across the country were announced on a projector screen and rarely settling down between remarks from local elected officials.
Among the speakers were the newly elected statewide Democrats, several of whom made history in their own right.
Moore’s lieutenant governor, Aruna Miller, will become the first Indian-American elected to statewide office in Maryland, Rep. Anthony Brown will become the first African-American to be elected Attorney General and Brooke Lierman will become the first woman to be independently elected to statewide office in Maryland.
Supporters of Moore from across the city and state gathered to witness the historic victory.
Among them was Bowie District 1 council member Michael Esteve, who was an early backer of Moore’s candidacy, endorsing him during the crowded Democratic primary.
“He was really intellectually curious in a way that I don’t often see in a lot of high-level politicians,” Esteve said. “We don’t care if they’re Republican. We don’t care if they’re a Democrat, as long as they show a genuine, sincere interest in local governments and partnering with us to solve our day-to-day problems. That’s what matters to us. That’s what I saw in Wes.”
Justin Brandon, a friend of Moore from his youth, shared why he felt Moore’s campaign was able to energize voters.
“His background is so layered, that it connects with so many people. And I think that’s what was so strong about his campaign,” Brandon said. “Once you meet Wes, you see that this is a man who takes it seriously and wants to make a difference.”
Carla Young, director of membership for the Greater Bethesda Chamber of Commerce, said meeting Moore at a fundraising event helped secure her vote.
“It’s time for a new voice, a new face and new change for the state of Maryland,” Young said. “His platform, in terms of education, work and health care, it stands in line with how I was raised and my beliefs.”
Many supporters in attendance were excited about the prospect of what a Black governor would mean for the state and the promise it symbolized.
“I’m here for history being made here tonight,” Alonzo Fulgham said. “Tonight represents another shining example of one of Martin Luther King’s statements in his ‘I Have a Dream’ speech … judging an individual by the content of his character, rather than the color of his skin.”
CASA in Action, the largest Latino and immigrant advocacy group on the East Coast, built out a powerful general election advocacy campaign to get out the vote to Marylanders for Wes Moore. Gustavo Torres, president of CASA in Action, called Moore an “extraordinary candidate” and “part of our family,” citing Moore’s Cuban roots.
“More than 21,000 doors were knocked, in support of the candidate,” Torres said. “We also had a lot of advertisements on social media; around half a million people watched or listened on social media.”
With the Moore victory, Maryland Democrats also secured unified control of the state government for the first time in eight years.
Julius Washington is a reporter for HUNewsService.com.