The state elected the Democrat military veteran – who has never run for office – by a landslide.
Wes Moore will be a “transformational” governor of Maryland, the mayor of Baltimore predicted on Wednesday, as the US state woke to the news it had by a landslide elected its first African American governor and only the third such executive in US history.
Brandon M Scott wrote: “Woke up this morning still beaming with pride knowing that my man Wes Moore will be a transformational governor for Maryland. Every Marylander will be seen, heard, understood and invested in.”
Scott also said he was “impatiently excited about working in partnership to move Baltimore forward”.
Baltimore has produced governors before. The last Democrat to move into the governor’s mansion in Annapolis, Martin O’Malley, took the job after inspiring (to a contested degree) the character of mayor Tommy Carcetti in the HBO classic The Wire.
But Moore is no machine politician, never having run for office before. At 43, he has been a Rhodes scholar and bestselling author (of The Other Wes Moore, which the New York Times called “a reminder of … basic truths about poverty and race in America”); a paratrooper who saw combat in Afghanistan; an investment banker; and the founder of nonprofit groups.
His opponent, the Republican Dan Cox, a state legislator, did not immediately concede defeat, even after networks called the race and Moore addressed supporters at a hotel on the Baltimore waterfront around 10pm.
“What an amazing night and what an improbable journey,” Moore said.
Moore said he had spoken to Larry Hogan, the Republican governor, who opposed Cox over his support for Donald Trump and participation in events at the US Capitol on 6 January 2021, but who did not endorse Moore.
Hogan said: “There is no higher calling than public service, and no greater honor than to serve the people of this great state. Our team is committed to ensuring a smooth and orderly transition to the next administration.”
Moore reached for inspiration over the partisan battle. He told supporters: “When our days are dominated by cynicism and mistrust, at a time when those of you and frankly those of us who hope to be part of the solution are often told to wait our turn, you believed.
“You believed that in this moment, our state could be bolder. You believed that in this moment, our state could go faster. You believed that in this moment, our state would not wait its turn and you believed in the son of an immigrant” – Moore’s mother is from Jamaica – “a graduate of a two-year college, a US army combat veteran and a non-profit leader who had never run for office before.
“It’s because you believed that I stand here humbled and grateful to become the 63rd governor of the state of Maryland.”
Moore also paid tribute to his family and to his lieutenant governor-elect, Aruna Miller, who came to the US from India at seven.
Among other Maryland Democrats who spoke in Baltimore on Tuesday, Steny Hoyer, the majority leader in the US House, said: “Millions of Marylanders saw Wes Moore as somebody who will lift us up, someone who will lead us.”
After his stint in the governor’s mansion, in 2016, O’Malley ran for president. He couldn’t compete with Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders but many observers suspect Moore might one day mount a run of his own. If all goes to plan in Maryland, by 2028 he will be an experienced governor of a state that does not run deep blue – and perhaps a formidable candidate.
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