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.
By Bruce DePuyt, Josh Kurtz and Danielle E. Gaines