Wes Moore is the projected winner of the Democratic primary for Maryland governor, The Associated Press reports. He will take on Republican Dan Cox, who has the endorsement of former President Donald Trump.
The competition this fall will see Moore as the strong favorite against Cox, a right-wing member of the Maryland House of Delegates that some have considered “a liability in a heavily Democratic state that twice elected centrist Republican Gov. Larry Hogan,” the AP said.
Moore would be the state’s first Black governor if elected, remains a political novice — his campaign received an early boost from Oprah Winfrey and House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer of Maryland.
As stated by WTOP’s news partners at Maryland Matters, the race remained a tight squeeze through Friday afternoon with Maryland law limiting the counting of mail in ballots until the Thursday after election day.
Early Friday, Perez’s campaign said in a statement that he isn’t conceding yet.
“Put simply, it’s too early to call this race. (Thursday) was the first day of counting for the 212,962 recorded and received vote-by-mail ballots and it was a huge day for Tom Perez,” the statement reads.
“He flipped multiple counties from election day and made major vote gains statewide, all while as many as 80,000 votes remain in Montgomery County — the largest remaining vote share and Tom’s incredibly strong base.”
But Todd Eberly, Professor of Political Science at St. Mary’s College of Maryland, said that there are lots of uncounted mail-in ballots in Baltimore City and County too — where Moore has a strong base.
Between the uncounted ballots in Baltimore and Moore’s significant lead, Eberly concluded that “it seems very, very unlikely that anything will change with regard to the current rank order, which has Moore on top.”
There were 10 candidates in the Democratic primary for governor including Perez, a former U.S. labor secretary and former Democratic Party chair; and Franchot, the state’s four-term state comptroller.
Franchot conceded the race and congratulated Moore while thanking his supporters in a tweet on Friday.
“With voting rights, Roe v. Wade, health care, common sense gun control, climate change, and economic stability being the key issues of this moment, it is vital that Marylanders come together to elect a Democrat to be the next governor,” Franchot said.
— Comptroller Peter Franchot (@peterfranchot) July 22, 2022
Polls had shown it as a tight race, with both Perez and Moore closing strong for months, followed by Franchot, Eberly said.
“In the final weeks Moore just closed stronger,” Eberly said. “He and Perez … were tireless campaigners. I mean, they were out constantly trying to drum up votes and I think in the end, it boosted them both.”
In November, Moore, the former CEO of the Robin Hood Foundation, an anti-poverty organization, is expected to face off against Dan Cox, a far-right state legislator endorsed by former President Donald Trump.
Gov. Larry Hogan, a Republican, has held the seat for the last two terms, but could not run again because of term limits.
Moore is a third-generation Marylander who was born in Takoma Park.
Moore’s running mate was former Maryland State Del. Aruna Miller.
WTOP’s Ivy Lyons, Kate Ryan, Jessica Kronzer, Colleen Kelleher and The Associated Press contributed to this report.