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Democrat Wes Moore to face Trump-backed Republican Dan Cox in Maryland governor race

Updated July 23, 2022 at 12:56 AM ET

Wes Moore, a first-time candidate, has emerged from a nine-way race as the winner of the Maryland Democratic primary for governor, according to a race call by The Associated Press.

In November, Moore will face Republican Dan Cox, who won his race Tuesday night according to The Associated Press. Cox is a first-term state lawmaker in the Maryland House of Delegates who helped to spread former President Donald Trump's lies that he won the 2020 election. Trump endorsed Cox in the race.

Moore, 43, is an author who has worked in the private and non-profit sectors. He was most recently the CEO of the Robin Hood Foundation, a national anti-poverty organization. He was backed in the race by Oprah Winfrey, who held an online fundraiser for him. If Moore wins, he'll be the first Black governor in the state.

Even though registered Democrats outnumber registered Republicans in the state, Democratic voters have thrown support behind a Republican candidate for governor in the last two elections, Gov. Larry Hogan. The strong desire on the part of Democrats to take back the office led to the crowded primary. But it might not be that easy for Cox will have a difficult time winning in November.

According to arecent poll from Goucher College and member station WYPR, 84% of Democrats would not consider supporting Cox in the general election. Because registered Democrats outnumber registered Republicans 2-to-1 in the state, the Republican would need backing from many Democratic voters to win.

State Del. Dan Cox declares victory in the Maryland Republican primary for governor on July 19 in Emmitsburg, Md.
Rachel Baye / WYPR
State Del. Dan Cox declares victory in the Maryland Republican primary for governor on July 19 in Emmitsburg, Md.

The Democratic Governors Association spent more than $1 million running ads touting Cox's record supporting Trump, abortion restrictions and gun rights. It's a strategy we've seen inother states this year.

State Republican leaders say the ads were designed to help Cox win Tuesday's primary, giving Democrats a leg up in November, but the DGA says they're designed to be attack ads and that they're starting the general election fight early.

Democrats haven't been able to elect a governor in Maryland since 2010 with former Gov. Martin O'Malley, and Hogan has been enormously popular in the state. He's an outspoken opponent of former Trump, is bullish when it comes to cutting taxes but is moderate on most social issues.

Another poll from Goucher College last October found that when voters were asked to choose between a Republican like either Trump or Hogan and a progressive or moderate Democrat, "a Republican like Hogan is competitive, or even bests a moderate or progressive Democrat," says Mileah Kromer, the director of the Sarah T. Hughes Center for Politics at Goucher College. "And a Republican like Trump, on the other hand, gets blown out of the water."

Copyright 2022 WYPR - 88.1 FM

Rachel Baye
Rachel Baye is a reporter for WYPR covering Maryland state politics and related topics.