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Elections

Maryland elects a slate of historic, diverse ‘firsts’ across statewide offices, led by Wes Moore

(L-R): Aruna Miller, Wes Moore, Brooke Lierman and Anthony Brown celebrate their election wins.

With his family in tow, Gov.-elect Wes Moore walked across the stage at his election night victory party Tuesday and into the history books: for the first time since the office was founded, Maryland will have a Black governor.

“You’ll never see a first Black governor in Maryland again,” said Amy Dacey, the executive director of American University Sine Institute of Policy & Politics, where Moore was a fellow last year. “That barrier has been broken.”

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Aside from Moore, who is the state’s first and the nation’s third Black governor, Maryland will see a series of other historic firsts after Democrats swept the top of the ticket Tuesday. They are the first immigrant and Asian American lieutenant governor in Aruna Miller, the first Black attorney general in Anthony Brown and, in Brooke Lierman, the first female comptroller and first woman directly elected to statewide office.

“I might be the first person across this bridge,” Moore told the press after declaring victory in the race to succeed outgoing Gov. Larry Hogan. “I also just know that I’m not crossing alone and I’m very, very cognizant of the shoulders I’m standing on.”

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Maryland Gov.-elect Wes Moore and his family on stage at Tuesday night's victory party for Democratic candidates.

Each candidate took to the stage after their races were called at their joint election night party at the Baltimore Marriott Waterfront near the Inner Harbor evening. While all acknowledged the historic significance of their respective victories, each candidate-elect clarified that they are eager to get to work.

“Here’s the thing: Wes Moore or I or anyone in this room do not get to decide when we’re born, our race, our skin color, our gender, our sexual orientation, our socioeconomic background or our abilities,” Lt. Gov.-elect Miller said after declaring victory Tuesday night. “But what we do get to decide is how we live our lives so we can improve the lives of others.”

Miller immigrated to the United States from India in 1972 at age 7.

She is the second woman to hold the position of lieutenant governor. Kathleen Kennedy Townsend became the first when she was elected alongside former Gov. Parris Glendening in 1994. Miller will succeed Lt. Gov. Boyd Rutherford when he and Hogan meet their term limit in January.

Although women have served as treasurer [not a directly elected position] and lieutenant governor, a position elected in tandem with the governor in Maryland, a woman had never been elected directly to a statewide office until this week. Lierman, a state delegate from Baltimore, became the first when she was elected comptroller.

“Tonight, Maryland has shown America what true representation looks like,” she said in her victory speech Tuesday. “Thank you all for making me a part of that.”

In Maryland, the comptroller oversees state income tax collection; imposes state taxes on gasoline, alcohol and tobacco; and has a seat on the three-person Board of Public Works, which approves major state contracts. Lierman will join Moore and state Treasurer Dereck E. Davis on the Board of Public Works in January.

She will be taking over from Comptroller Peter Franchot, who is ending his decadeslong career in Maryland politics after an unsuccessful gubernatorial bid against Moore. He has held the office for four terms.

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Congressman Brown will become Maryland’s first Black attorney general.

“The history to be made and the barriers that have been broken are not what you see on this stage tonight,” Brown said as he declared victory. “It’s what we do together, and the weeks, the months, the years ahead.”

Brown served as former Gov. Martin O’Malley’s lieutenant governor during his second term, which made him the second Black man to hold the position following Michael Steele who held the post under Republican Gov. Robert Ehrlich.

Brown is succeeding Attorney General Brian Frosh, who is capping off a three-decade political career at the end of his second term.

Moore said during his campaign that he’s “not running to make history,” but rather to make societal issues like child poverty or the racial wealth gap “history.”

“I think that message really resonated with a lot of folks,” said Sam Novey, the consulting community scholar for University of Maryland’s Center for Democracy and Civic Engagement.

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Across the country, other election firsts took place. A state had never elected women to the top two governmental spots — governor and lieutenant governor — until Arkansas and Massachusetts both did so Tuesday.

Of the firsts in Maryland, Dacey said it’s “incredible” to see and that it “makes for better representation.”

“Hopefully we get to a place where firsts aren’t a part of the conversation,” Dacey said.


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