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What's next for Wes Moore?

What's next for Wes Moore?

In recent months, the best-selling author, Rhodes scholar and TV show host has been attending political events, volunteering in Baltimore's schools, writing op-ed pieces on public policy and talking about government affairs on "Meet The Press." Moore's activities — which include two recent visits to the White House — have led some to believe he's contemplating a run for political office.

"He's doing things that people who are interested in running for office normally do," said Lester Spence, a Johns Hopkins University associate professor of political science. "If he did run for office, I think he'd have a Cory Booker type of trajectory," he said, referring to the Newark, N.J., mayor who also was a Rhodes Scholar.

But Moore, 34, who last year moved back to Baltimore after living in New York, says he's focused on his business and volunteer work. And he says he has no interest in running for office.

"I swear every day I hear a new rumor about what my plans are," said Moore. "I have no intention to run for office," he said. "There are a lot of ways to serve without being elected to office."

Still, as Moore's visibility in Baltimore has increased, people have been speculating. In March, he joined the board of directors of the Baltimore Community Foundation. Last month, he gave the commencement address at the Johns Hopkins School of Education.

"The foundation community, the business community, everybody wants him to run for something," said State Sen. Bill Ferguson, a Democrat who represents south and southeast Baltimore. "But I think he wants to build a successful business in Baltimore and find places to help the city thrive."

Moore, a Johns Hopkins graduate, became nationally known after publishing a bestselling book, "The Other Wes Moore." It detailed the disparate life journeys of two boys from Maryland with the same name — one who went to prison and the other (the author) who forged a successful career.

Moore says he finds talk of a bright political future flattering, but sees himself more as an advocate than a politician.

"There have been quite a few people who have asked me" to run for office, Moore said. "It's humbling. I'm going to continue believing and fighting for this city. We didn't move here to sit on the sidelines. We're going to be involved."

Moore grew up in Southern Maryland and the Bronx and attended Valley Forge Military Academy in Pennsylvania. A veteran Army paratrooper and captain, he served a combat tour in Afghanistan, interned for former Baltimore Mayor Kurt Schmoke and was a special assistant to former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice.

In October, Moore — along with his wife and daughter— moved from New York to Baltimore's Guilford neighborhood, and brought his businesses with him. Among other initiatives, Moore runs Omari Productions, which creates content for networks including PBS, NBC and HBO. Moore, who is working on several additional books, also hosts a show on Oprah Winfrey's network called "Beyond Belief."

Meanwhile, his bestseller is being developed into a movie, with Winfrey serving as an executive producer. He says the movie will be shot in Baltimore.

"The great thing is we're moving all this stuff down here," Moore said. "We're hiring down here. Everything I'm working on is going to be down here."

He's also busy with volunteer work. Moore has frequently visited city schools and has helped with Operation Oliver, a group of military veterans working to revitalize that East Baltimore neighborhood.

Along the way, he's gained admirers.

While he didn't want to comment on Moore's political future, Thomas E. Wilcox, president and CEO of the Baltimore Community Foundation, said Moore has had a positive impact on the organization since joining the board of directors. In February, Wilcox, Moore and Tom Bozzuto, CEO of the Bozzuto Group, wrote an op-ed article in The Baltimore Sun endorsing the city's school construction initiative.

"As a leader, he is extraordinary," Wilcox said. "He's working alongside some of the most powerful CEOs in greater Baltimore and everybody loves him. If you've read his book, it's quite a story and he's even more impressive in person."

Navy veteran Jeremy Johnson, one of the leaders of the Operation Oliver initiative, said he's been impressed by Moore's commitment to the neighborhood.

"Whatever role he chooses to take — whether that's politics or something else — he's more than capable and sincere in what he's trying to do," Johnson said. "When Wes comes out, he swings a hammer. He does not sit around and watch. He gets his hands dirty."

Moore says he plans to be active in politics, just not as a politician

"I have a tremendous amount of respect for people who do that profession," he said of government officials. "I don't think it has to be everybody's profession. I believe in good policy and I believe in advocating for good policy."

luke.broadwater@baltsun.com

twitter.com/lukebroadwater

Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun
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