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Elections

What you need to know about Maryland Democratic gubernatorial nominee Wes Moore

Wes Moore has lived quite a few lives.

Rhodes scholar. U.S. Army officer who saw combat in Afghanistan. Investment banker. Bestselling author. Leader of a massive anti-poverty nonprofit organization.

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And now, as a first-time candidate for elected office, his next role may very well be governor of Maryland.

Moore, 43, defeated a sprawling field of experienced and well-funded candidates to win the Democratic nomination for governor in Tuesday’s primary. In facing Republican Del. Dan Cox in the general election, he’s hoping to return the state government to full Democratic control after eight years of Republican Gov. Larry Hogan. Both the House of Delegates and the state Senate are expected to maintain large Democratic majorities.

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Here are five things to know about the man who may become Maryland’s next governor.

From Takoma Park to Baltimore

Moore often talks about his formative upbringing under a single mother after his father died when he was 3. Though his family lived in Takoma Park when he was born, Moore spent much of his childhood in the Bronx before returning to Maryland — in Pasadena, Anne Arundel County — when he was 16.

He graduated from Valley Forge Military College and Johns Hopkins University, as well as winning a prestigious Rhodes scholarship to study at Oxford University.

He went on to serve in the Army, worked in finance and spent a year in federal government on a White House fellowship.

He stepped down as CEO of the Robin Hood Foundation, a large nonprofit that fights poverty, in 2021 before starting his campaign.

He lives in Baltimore with his wife and two children.

‘The Other Wes Moore’

Moore’s previous claim to fame came in 2010, when he published “The Other Wes Moore: One Name, Two Fates.”

The book traced his successful path through higher education and a budding public service career as well as the divergent path of a man with the same name. The other Wes Moore is serving life without parole for his role in the murder of an off-duty Baltimore County police officer.

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The nonfiction tale became a bestseller and landed Moore prominent national interviews.

Fought off controversies

The book was also the source of some controversy, however, one that political rivals used to try to derail his campaign as it gained momentum earlier this year.

Political operatives claimed Moore had embellished his childhood ties to Baltimore by not correcting interviewers who wrongly described him as having been born and raised in the city.

“I have been very clear and transparent,” Moore told The Baltimore Sun in April. “I mean, literally, I talked about where I was born on page 7. I talked about how my family transitioned from Maryland to New York on page 37 of my book. I’ve been very clear and transparent about it in both what I’ve written and what I’ve said.”

Moore’s campaign filed a 14-page complaint with state elections officials, accusing another candidate of anonymously circulating a political dossier on the issue, which included instances in which he failed to correct interviewers, such as Oprah Winfrey, Stephen Colbert and Judy Woodruff of PBS, who mischaracterized his connection to the city.

Moore defended himself against a similar allegation regarding two past instances of him not setting straight television interviewers who had inaccurately said he was awarded a Bronze Star. The candidate called those “desperate attacks” and said the instances were among “hundreds of interviews” he’d done over the years.

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He had another target on his back in early June during the premier debate of the primary season.

Moore, who also threw criticisms at Comptroller Peter Franchot and former U.S. Labor Secretary Tom Perez at the event, was on the receiving end of attacks by Perez and former U.S. Education Secretary John King about his time as an investment banker at Citibank from 2007 to 2012 and about his time on the board of a parent company for a for-profit online college.

On the issues

Moore has described himself as a policy wonk who would get into the weeds of governing.

Through his talk on the campaign trail and his detailed policy platforms, he’s outlined major investments in workforce programs, education, public transportation and infrastructure.

Like other Democrats, he’s said he would be committed to reviving the Red Line, the east-west Baltimore light rail project that Hogan canceled in 2015. He’s also talked about investing in roads, electric vehicles and Baltimore buses — filming an ad that showed him riding a Baltimore bus alone at night.

On education issues, he supports funding the Blueprint for Maryland’s Future, a landmark multiyear education plan approved in 2021. He’s also talked often about implementing a program that guarantees high school graduates a year of public service in exchange for job training and tuition assistance.

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“Service is sticky,” Moore likes to say.

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With rising crime in Baltimore expected to be a top issue in the election, Moore has supported hiring more probation and parole officers, pursuing police misconduct allegations and increasing resources for law enforcement agencies.

Endorsements and fundraising

Moore was the most prolific fundraiser in the primary and also racked up the longest list of endorsements.

U.S. House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, U.S. Reps. Kweisi Mfume and Dutch Ruppersberger were among them. So were county executives from Prince George’s and Anne Arundel counties, the two top members of the General Assembly and the last Democratic nominee for governor, Ben Jealous. Moore also grabbed the coveted endorsement of the Maryland teachers’ union. Even Winfrey put out an ad and held a virtual fundraiser with him.

In fundraising, Moore had not only the highest dollar amount, but most of that came from Marylanders who contributed less than $100.

He raised more than $3 million in 2022 before the most recent filing deadline in early July, and more had come in between his campaign launch in June 2021 and the end of December.

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An analysis of the January to June fundraising figures by The Sun showed 37% of his money had come from donors outside Maryland, compared to 80% for King and 65% for Perez. Moore also had the largest donor base in that period — roughly 4,200 individual donors — and the median contribution was $63.

The campaign had a little over $800,000 in the bank a few weeks before the primary.

For the record

A previous version of this article incorrectly reported the percentages of Maryland donors for Wes Moore, John King and Tom Perez.


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