ANNAPOLIS, Md. — Democrats Wes Moore and U.S. Rep Anthony Brown aimed to make Maryland history Tuesday, with Moore hoping to become the state’s first Black governor and Brown running to be Maryland’s first Black attorney general.
Moore, 44, is running against Republican Dan Cox, a state legislator endorsed by former President Donald Trump, in a state where Democrats outnumber Republicans 2-1. Trump lost to President Joe Biden in 2020 in Maryland after receiving only 32% of the vote.
Moore and Cox are running to replace Republican Gov. Larry Hogan, who is term limited.
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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 has been 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.
In their only debate, 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.”
Cox described Moore, a best-selling author, as “a phony,” criticizing him for saying he lived in Baltimore longer than he did in his book. He also criticized him for not debating him more than once.
Democrats are hungry to regain the governor’s office after eight years of Republican control.
Of the 36 governor’s races this year, Maryland and Massachusetts represent 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.
Moore, a former CEO of one of the nation’s largest anti-poverty organizations, campaigned on creating equal opportunity for Maryland residents.
“This can be Maryland’s moment,” Moore said during during his debate with Cox. “We have amazing people and incredible potential, but not everybody’s in a position to succeed.”
Cox, who tried to impeach Hogan this year over for restrictions he ordered during the COVID-19 pandemic, has pitched to voters that he “will never lock you down.” He has campaigned on working to reduce regulations and taxes, supporting law enforcement and giving parents more say in public schools.
Other candidates who are running for governor include David Lashar, of the Libertarian Party; Nancy Wallace, of the Green Party; and David Harding, of the Working Class Party.
Meanwhile, Brown also is hoping to make history by becoming the state’s first Black attorney general. Brown, a three-term congressman representing a majority-Black district in the suburbs of the nation’s capital, served as lieutenant governor for eight years. He lost the 2014 governor’s race to Hogan before winning his U.S. House seat.
Brown is running against Republican Michael Peroutka, a former Anne Arundel County Council member.
A Republican has not been elected attorney general in Maryland since 1919. Edward D.E. Rollins was the last Republican to serve in the office, after being appointed to it in 1952.
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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