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Political Notes: Hoyer Endorses Wes Moore for Governor, Plus Legislative Candidates Backed by CASA in Action, Sierra Club

Maryland Matters |

Gubernatorial hopeful Wes Moore pulled in a coveted Democratic endorsement Friday, when U.S. House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer announced his support for the former nonprofit CEO and author.

Speaking to reporters and the candidate’s supporters at the Bowie State University MARC Station, Hoyer called Moore “a young and dynamic leader, full of vigor and vision, who is ready to take his boundless energy — and a common sense borne of experience — and use it to invigorate our economy, our people, and our sense of possibility.”

Hoyer endorsed then-Prince George’s County Executive Rushern L. Baker III in the 2018 gubernatorial contest. Baker finished second to Ben Jealous, a disappointing 10 points behind the nominee. Baker, Moore and seven other Democrats are running in the July 19 primary.

Hoyer, who was elected to the state Senate nearly 12 years before Moore was born, said he initially intended to stay neutral in this year’s primary. But after getting to know Moore, Hoyer said, he decided to endorse him.

“I’ve been in public office in Maryland for half a century, and I’ve seen a lot of candidates,” he said. “Wes Moore is unlike any other. He is uniquely suited to bring a message of hope and possibility to this race. He is a new candidate for a new and better day for Maryland.”

A paratrooper and captain in the United States Army, Moore served a combat tour of duty in Afghanistan in 2005 and 2006. He recalled how his unit received an American flag and a Maryland flag from Hoyer. Those flags, Moore said, were a reminder that “we were not forgotten, that we were being thought about, that we were being prayed over.”

“You meant the world to me then,” Moore told Hoyer. “Your leadership means the world to us now.”

Moore was asked about a Fox 45 report that highlighted his failure to correct Stephen Colbert in 2010 after the comedian falsely said Moore had received the Bronze Star.

“You are a decorated veteran of the Afghan war, correct?” Colbert said, during his intro.

“Yes,” Moore replied.

“The Bronze star,” Colbert added incorrectly. Moore, who was briefly off-camera, did not respond.

Moore opponents from both parties have been spotlighting what they claim are exaggerations in his life story. A graduate of Johns Hopkins University, Oxford University and a Rhodes Scholar who served as a White House fellow, Moore earned a slew of military honors, but he did not receive the Bronze Star.

“Everything that I have ever said about my service and written about my service, I stand by and I am proud of,” Moore said. “I’m proud of the fact that I’m a decorated combat veteran and I believe I’ve earned that.”

“Of the hundreds of interviews that I have given, the idea of pulling together a couple where I did not correct a reporter or correct an interviewer, it just continues to highlight a measure of desperation in the attacks,” he added.

Hoyer said he asked Moore about the controversy before Friday’s announcement. “I am absolutely convinced that Wes has told the truth on all of these matters that continue to be raised.”

Republicans are going after Moore “because they think Wes Moore is the winning candidate in the general election,” Hoyer said to applause.

Operatives in both parties have tried to sell reporters on what they have call inconsistencies in Moore’s telling of his life story, including the number of years he has lived in Baltimore.

Hoyer endorsed Moore at Bowie State because the area around the MARC train station there is under consideration for the federal Regional Institution Strategic Enterprise (RISE) economic development program.

For prior endorsements in the governor’s race, click here.

CASA to the Max

CASA in Action, the political arm of the immigrant advocacy organization, announced Friday that it has endorsed community organizer Max Socol, who is challenging state Sen. Jeffrey D. Waldstreicher (D-Montgomery) in the July 19 Democratic primary.

“CASA in Action members are fighting for more progressive representation in District 18,” said Gustavo Torres, president of CASA in Action. “From immigration and police reform to tenant justice, Max is aligned with CASA in Action’s vision for a Maryland that uplifts dignity, fairness, and respect for immigrant and working families.”

Socol, who lives in Silver Spring, was previously an organizer with the national group Bend the Arc: Jewish Action, and is a founding member of the Silver Spring Justice Coalition, and the Montgomery County Racial Equity Network, where he serves on the Housing Committee. In a statement, he noted that one-third of the Montgomery County population is foreign-born. District 18 has some pockets where a high percentage of the population are immigrants.

“I’ve been proud to stand with CASA in Action leaders fighting for housing and immigrant justice and I am deeply honored to have their support in this race,” he said. “I look forward to continuing to organize with CASA in Action’s 122,000 members to fight for justice in the economy, education, housing, and immigration.”

Sierra Club backs additional legislative candidates 

The Sierra Club Maryland Chapter announced eight additional endorsements in legislative races Thursday, including support for one candidate challenging an incumbent.

The environmental group is backing former Prince George’s County School Board Member Raaheela Ahmed (D) in District 23; she and small business owner Sylvia Johnson (D) are challenging Sen. Ron Watson (D), who was appointed to fill a vacancy in the chamber last year.

Earlier in the week, Sierra Club endorsed 87 current members of the General Assembly(including Waldstreicher).

Two other Senate candidates won the group’s backing Thursday: Mike Dreisbach, one of two Democrats running in Western Maryland’s Republican-heavy District 1, and Dawn Gile, the only Democrat running in a purple district currently represented by Sen. Edward R. Reilly (R-Anne Arundel).

In the House, Sierra Club is backing five non-incumbent candidates:

  • Joe Vogel, one of two Democratic candidates running for an open seat in Montgomery County’s District 17. The district’s incumbents, Dels. Kumar Barve (D) and Julie Palakovich Carr (D), were endorsed earlier.
  • Courtney Buiniskis, the only Democratic candidate in District 30B, which is currently represented by Del. Seth Howard (R), who is seeking re-election.
  • Andrew Pruski, an Anne Arundel County councilmember who is one of three Democrats seeking the party nomination in single-member District 33A.
  • Susan Delean-Bzotkin, the only Democrat running in District 37B, a red district.
  • Elizabeth Embry, one of six Democrats running in a two-member district in north Baltimore; incumbent Del. Regina Boyce (D) was among the sitting legislators endorsed by the group.