Republican gubernatorial nominee Dan Cox called on school officials Monday to remove his opponent Wes Moore’s book from the Baltimore City public school curriculum, parroting a claim over where Moore was born and raised that was addressed by the Democratic nominee’s campaign earlier this year.
Moore campaign spokesman Brian Adam Jones, meanwhile, called Cox’s news conference “a desperate attempt” to distract from poll results released Monday that showed the Democrat with a wide lead in the race.
Questions about Moore’s truthfulness regarding his background surfaced earlier this year. In an April interview, Moore refuted allegations that he had misled the public by not correcting assertions in the book and by people who interviewed him that he was born and raised in West Baltimore.
“It’s inappropriate to be presenting … fictional campaign material as part of a curriculum, particularly this fall,” Cox said Monday of his opponent’s book, “The Other Wes Moore.”
Some editions of Moore’s bestselling autobiography, initially published in 2010 and now required reading in some schools, have a back-cover synopsis that reads: “Two kids named Wes Moore were born blocks apart within a year of each other.”
The other Wes Moore grew up in Baltimore and is serving life in prison for his role in the robbery of a Pikesville jewelry store that ended in the murder of Baltimore County police officer, Sgt. Bruce A. Prothero. Prothero was off-duty at the time of his death.
Moore’s book accurately recounts his early childhood in the Washington suburb of Takoma Park, which was upended after the death of his father when Moore was 3 years old. The family moved to the Bronx to be with his grandparents before relocating again — when Moore was 16 and attending boarding school at the Valley Forge Military Academy in Pennsylvania — to Pasadena in Anne Arundel County.
But the narrative, structured around parallels between the two similarly named men’s lives and the now-candidate’s belief that either could’ve easily ended up on very different paths, left some with the impression that the author was himself a native son of Baltimore.
A correction to the back-cover synopsis was issued in 2021 and is printed in all subsequent copies of the book. Cox was unable to directly point to other inaccuracies within the book itself.
Cox also said that it wasn’t appropriate to profit off Prothero’s and Moore’s families.
The other Wes Moore and many of his family members spoke with the candidate Wes Moore at length for the book. Daren Muhammad, an uncle of the incarcerated Moore, stood alongside Cox at the Monday news conference to express his frustrations with the book.
In an interview afterward, Muhammad said his nephew has requested that his family not “challenge Wes Moore” the candidate, but he and a few others still decided to speak out. Muhammad said the family has not asked Moore for proceeds from sales of the book.
Jones, the Moore campaign spokesman, said Cox’s claims Monday were an attempt at “doing what Dan Cox does best — peddling baseless conspiracy theories.”
“We’re focused on connecting with voters around our vision of economic opportunity, working with communities and law enforcement to ensure public safety, and fighting to make sure that every child in Maryland has access to a world-class public education,” Jones said.
The new poll showed 53% of likely voters intended to vote for Moore, while 31% said they would vote for Cox.
The Republican said that wasn’t necessarily bad news for him.
“The Goucher Poll is an opportunity for all of Maryland to dig in and say, ‘It’s time to go. We’re rolling.’” Cox said. “This is a very within-striking-distance race. We’re excited.”
With first-time-candidate Moore out-fundraising him by a margin of roughly 10-to-1 in the most recent period, Cox said he was running “close” to Moore even though he’s spent only $500,000.
Maryland Policy & Politics
He also said “unity” among members of his party supporting his candidacy was “very strong” even though high-profile Republicans — including the incumbent governor, state Senate minority leader and nominee for comptroller — have declined to support him. Hogan has explicitly called Cox a “whack job” and questioned his mental health.
Cox said he was nonetheless supporting all members of his party and was still “working on” getting Hogan’s backing.
“I would certainly welcome anything that the governor would say in our support. But at this point, it’s — the governor is not on the ballot. We’re having a new day in Maryland and the day is, the opportunity is, for us to carry on with the third term,” said Cox, indicating that he would try to continue some of Hogan’s legacy, which remains popular among voters from both parties.
With a Montgomery County Circuit Court judge expected to hear a case Tuesday that would allow election workers to process mail-in ballots before Election Day, Cox reiterated that he opposes the move, which is intended to prevent lengthy delays in announcing the results.
Cox filed a motion in the case last week arguing that only the General Assembly has the power to change the timeline. A lawyer who promoted former President Donald Trump’s false claims of widespread election fraud in 2020, Cox also argued the change would further sow distrust in the process. Some political observers said before the primary that Cox likely would have publicly doubted the results if he had lost to Hogan’s preferred candidate, Kelly Schulz.
On Monday, he refused to say whether he would be confident in that process if the court agrees with the State Board of Elections to alter the timeline.
“When we see the electoral process upheld, when we see the law in the Constitution upheld, that’s where we get our confidence,” Cox said.