By Julius Washington
There might be another star.
At least, if Maryland Democrats have anything to say about it.
As gubernatorial candidate Wes Moore and President Joe Biden exited the stage at Bowie State University to Stevie Wonder’s “Another Star,” the message was clear. This election would be historic, and Maryland would have something to say about it.
On the eve of election night, Maryland gubernatorial candidate Wes Moore was joined by the First Family, and a who’s who of Maryland Democrats, Senators Ben Cardin and Chris Van Hollen, and Rep. Steny Hoyer, the House majority leader, for a rally inside Bowie State University’s A.C. Jordan Arena.
Spirits were high in the gym, and the rally’s 2,200 attendees were fired up to show their support for the lengthy slate of candidates.
“For the first time in nearly 100 years, every statewide seat is on the ballot at the same time,” said Brooke Lierman, the Democratic nominee for comptroller.
But the star of the night was Moore.
“We’re gonna have a new governor. His name is Wes — we’re gonna get Moore of him,” Hoyer said.
Moore is hoping to make history as the first African-American governor of Maryland and only the third elected African-American governor in American history.
“This is going to be Maryland’s moment,” Moore declared.
Derek Matthews, a Bowie State University alum, and a Moore supporter, was excited about having an opportunity to elect a Black governor for Maryland.
“To have a governor that looks like us, is just a beautiful thing. Coming from my day and age, you would have never believed that you would have a governor or a former president that looked like us,” Mr. Matthews said. “And when we go to these institutions [HBCUs], we aspire to see things like that happen.”
Polling in the race has Moore ahead by nearly 30 percentage points and Biden won the state of Maryland in 2020 by 32% and over one million votes. Moore has said he is running “like we are 10 points behind” and doesn’t plan on changing that principle if he is elected on Tuesday.
“This is how I plan on governing. Aggressively, with urgency and across every part of the state. So get used to it,” Moore said. “Maryland will lead.”
For Moore, the first Black Rhodes scholar from Johns Hopkins University, breaking boundaries is familiar territory. His background includes a litany of credentials from several different fields, including military service in Afghanistan, time as a White House fellow and serving as CEO of the anti-poverty organization Robin Hood.
His supporters hail from a diverse set of backgrounds as well. The crowd included seniors, young professionals, and students for whom Wes Moore would be the first Black executive official they had the opportunity to cast a ballot for.
Gloria Gaddy, grandmother of a Bowie State freshman, attended the rally, calling herself a big supporter of Moore.
“It was awesome, everything was awesome,” Gaddy said, “I’m excited. I really think we’re going to win.”
Will it Be a New Era in Maryland?
Melissa Ladd, local chapter leader at Moms Demand Action, a grassroots group that fights for public safety measures, focusing specifically on gun safety, was in attendance with members of the organization, supporting Moore and Democratic nominees across the statewide slate.
“We’re just really excited to have a new era in Maryland,” Ladd said. “All of the candidates we saw on stage are gun sense candidates.”
For Biden, the event marked his final pitch to voters before Tuesday’s election. The speech was familiar, with the president having refined his message over the course of the extended midterm campaign season, highlighting his administration’s accomplishments from the last two years.
A number of hecklers were present, interrupting the president at several points during his speech, shouting a number of comments, including, “Stop the war in Ukraine.”
Biden ignored most of the hecklers, who were drowned out by chants of “Let’s go, Joe,” but called one “crazy enough to jump,” urging him not to jump from the balcony above.
Biden also addressed Moore’s opponent, Dan Cox, who has come under fire for chartering buses to the Capitol on Jan. 6 and for a tweet during the insurrection, calling former Vice President Mike Pence a “traitor.”
Democracy is on the ballot,” Biden said. “You can’t be pro-American and pro-insurrection,” Biden said.
As he walked off stage to the tune of Stevie Wonder’s “Another Star,” Moore danced and embraced members of the assembled crowd who were jockeying for photographs with the candidate.
If Moore wins on Tuesday, it will signal a partisan shift in Maryland politics, with Moore following eight years of Republican Gov. Larry Hogan’s administration. But his most important role may be as a symbol of Black exceptionalism in an increasingly diverse country.
For Matthews, whose late mom instilled in him a passion for civil rights and advocacy, a Moore win would be an immediate beacon for a new generation of Marylanders.
“I think it’s automatic. I think, from the day it’s announced that he’s officially won, I think the process of change will begin…I think he will be a good example for all of us to know that it’s possible.” Matthews said.