Author Wes Moore wins Democratic race for governor of Maryland

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ANNAPOLIS, Md. (AP) — Best-selling author Wes Moore won the Democratic primary for governor of Maryland on Friday, setting up a general election against Republican Dan Coxa hardline conservative backed by former President Donald Trump.

Moore, the author of ‘The Other Wes Moore’ and former CEO of an anti-poverty nonprofit, defeated a long list of other high-profile Democrats, including Tom Perez, the former U.S. secretary at Labor and former Democratic National Committee chairman, and Peter Franchot, longtime state comptroller.

Moore will be the heavy favorite in the November election against Cox, a right-wing member of the Maryland House of Delegates whose extreme politics are seen as a liability in a heavily Democratic state that twice elected centrist Republican Governor Larry Hogan. Moore would be the state’s first black governor if elected.

A political novice, Moore was given a boost in his campaign by Oprah Winfrey, who hosted a virtual fundraiser for him. He also had the support of U.S. Representative Steny Hoyer of Maryland, the No. 2 House Democrat.

Cox was declared the winner of the Republican primary on Tuesday night. It took until Friday to call Moore’s Democratic primary as margins were tighter and more mail-in ballots were cast in the race. Maryland law prohibits counties from opening mail-in ballots until the Thursday following Election Day.

Cox, a Trump sidekick and supporter of right-wing causes, promoted Trump’s lies about a stolen 2020 election, organized buses to Washington for the ‘Stop the Steal’ rally on January 6, 2021, and tweeted during the insurgency in United States Capitol that then-Vice President Mike Pence was a “traitor”.

Democrats see Moore as a strong candidate with a compelling personal story.

He was raised by a single mother after his father died when Moore was 3 years old. Moore graduated from Valley Forge Military College and Johns Hopkins University and won a Rhodes Scholarship to study at Oxford University.

He then served as a captain and paratrooper in the US Army’s 82nd Airborne and fought in Afghanistan.

He started and eventually sold a small business called BridgeEdU, which, according to its website, “reinvents the first year of college for underserved students to increase their chances of long-term success.” During his four years as CEO of the anti-poverty nonprofit Robin Hood Foundation, the organization has distributed more than $600 million to help needy families.

Moore has written a number of books, including “The Other Wes Moore”, a memoir which juxtaposes his life with that of another man with the same name and similar background who ended up serving a prison sentence at life for murder.

The decision by GOP voters to nominate Cox dashed hopes of Hogan and other establishment Republicans that the party could retain the governor’s mansion in a state where Democrats outnumber Republicans 2 to 1. Hogan was able to attract bipartisan support with his moderate policies and willingness to criticize Trump when he felt justified — an important act in a party that expects its members to line up behind its leader.

Hogan, who has been barred from running for a third straight term, backed his former cabinet member Kelly Schulz in the four-way Republican primary. Hogan hasn’t been shy in his distaste for Cox, denouncing him as a “crackpot” and a “QAnon job whack.” Cox sued Hogan’s stay-at-home orders and regulations early in the pandemic and introduced a resolution to impeach Hogan for what Cox called “malfeasance in power.”

Hogan will not vote for him in November, his spokesman said Wednesday.

Trump gloated over Cox’s success over Schulz on Tuesday night, writing in a statement, “The RINO Larry Hogan endorsement doesn’t seem to be working out so well for his highly favored nominee.”

Hogan fired back on Wednesday, tweeting that “Trump has lost Republicans in the White House, House and Senate.” He said Trump “would cost us a gubernatorial seat in Maryland where I was 45 points ahead of him.”

“He’s fighting for his ego,” Hogan said. “We fight to win, and the fight continues.”

Jim Dornan, a Republican political strategist with experience in Maryland politics, described Cox’s primary victory as “a disaster” for downgraded GOP candidates who rely on a strong gubernatorial candidate. to attract voters to the polls. He said any satisfaction Trump got from losing Hogan’s nominee would be short-lived as Republicans now risk losing the general election.

“I guess it can be said this way: Trump has won the battle and Hogan is looking to win the war,” said Dornan, who ran Republican Ellen Sauerbrey’s gubernatorial campaign in 1998 and headed the exploratory committee. of former Republican Party Chairman Michael Steele for governor last year. before deciding against an offer.

Still, the fact that Hogan’s hand-picked successor lost to a Trump-backed rival is an ominous sign for any national political ambitions Hogan might have, said St. Mary’s College political science professor Todd Eberly. of Maryland. Hogan, like Trump, is considering a Republican bid for president in 2024.

“I think the harsh reality is going to be, if that’s the case in a state that you’ve represented for the past eight years, a state that has re-elected you, it’s going to be that much harder for you to find success when you move. beyond the borders of this state seeking a national nomination,” Eberly said.

Democrats have long considered Cox the weakest candidate in the general election. The Democratic Governors Association went so far as to spend more than $1 million to run an ad intended to help Cox in the Republican primary by highlighting his endorsement of Trump and his conservative good faith.

Maryland Senate President Bill Ferguson, a Baltimore Democrat who has had numerous disagreements with Hogan in recent years, said he and Hogan could sit down and discuss their differences and negotiate. The Marylanders, he said, are not well represented by the winner of Tuesday’s GOP primary for governor.

“While it may be politically advantageous for Democrats to do so, I’m concerned what it means that someone with such extreme views has a platform for the next four months,” he said. said Ferguson.

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Follow AP for full midterm election coverage at https://apnews.com/hub/2022-midterm-elections and on Twitter at https://twitter.com/ap_politics.

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