Westley Watende Omari Moore (born October 15, 1978) is an American politician, businessman, author, and veteran, serving as the 63rd governor of Maryland since 2023.

Moore was born in Maryland and raised primarily in New York. He graduated from Johns Hopkins University and received a master’s degree from Wolfson College, Oxford as a Rhodes Scholar. After several years in the U.S. Army and Army Reserve, he became an investment banker in New York. Between 2010 and 2015, Moore published five books, including a young-adult novel. He served as CEO of the Robin Hood Foundation from 2017 to 2021.[1] Moore authored The Other Wes Moore and The Work. He also hosted Beyond Belief on the Oprah Winfrey Network, and was executive producer and a writer for Coming Back with Wes Moore on PBS.[2]

Moore is a longtime member of the Democratic Party. He won the 2022 Maryland gubernatorial election against Republican nominee Dan Cox, to become Maryland’s first African-American governor, the third African-American person elected as governor of any U.S. state, and as of 2024, the only African-American incumbent governor of any U.S. state.[3][4] Moore is the fifth African-American U.S. state governor overall following P. B. S. Pinchback of Louisiana, Douglas Wilder of Virginia, Deval Patrick of Massachusetts and David Paterson of New York.[5]

Early life and education

Moore was born in Takoma Park, Maryland, to William Westley Moore Jr., a broadcast news journalist,[6] and Joy Thomas Moore,[7] a daughter of immigrants from Cuba and Jamaica, and a media professional.[8][9][10][11]

On April 16, 1982, when Moore was three years old,[12] his father died of acute epiglottitis.[13] In the summer of 1984, Moore’s mother took him and his two sisters to live in the Bronx, New York, with her parents. His grandfather, James Thomas, a Jamaican immigrant,[14] was the first Black minister in the history of the Dutch Reformed Church.[15] His grandmother, Winell Thomas, a Cuban who moved to Jamaica before immigrating to the U.S., was a retired schoolteacher.[14] Moore attended Riverdale Country School. When his grades declined and he became involved in petty crime, his mother enrolled him in Valley Forge Military Academy and College.[15][16]

In 1998, Moore graduated Phi Theta Kappa from Valley Forge with an associate degree, completed the requirements for the United States Army‘s early commissioning program, and was appointed a second lieutenant of Military Intelligence in the Army Reserve. He then attended Johns Hopkins University, from which he graduated Phi Beta Kappa with a B.A. in international relations and economics in 2001.[17] At Johns Hopkins, he also played wide receiver for the Johns Hopkins Blue Jays football team for two seasons[18][19] and was initiated into the Omicron Delta Kappa, and Sigma Sigma Chapter of the Alpha Phi Alpha fraternities.[20] In 1998 and 1999, Moore interned for Baltimore Mayor Kurt Schmoke.[21] He later became involved with the March of Dimes before serving in the Army.[22] He also interned at the United States Department of Homeland Security under Secretary Tom Ridge.[23]

After graduating, he attended Wolfson College, Oxford as a Rhodes Scholar, where he earned a master’s degree in international relations in 2004[24] and submitted a thesis titled Rise and Ramifications of Radical Islam in the Western Hemisphere.[25] He was activated in the Army following the September 11 attacks, and deployed to Afghanistan from 2005 to 2006,[26] attaining the rank of captain while serving in the 82nd Airborne Division.[1][27] He left the Army in 2014.[25]

Career

Moore at Social Innovation Summit by New America in January 2020

In February 2006, Moore was named a White House Fellow to Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice.[1][28][29] He later worked as an investment banker at Deutsche Bank in Manhattan[23] and at Citibank from 2007 to 2012[30] while living in Jersey City, New Jersey.[1][31] In 2009, Moore was included on Crain’s New York Business‘s “40 Under 40” list.[32]

In 2010, Moore founded a television production company, Omari Productions, to create content for networks such as the Oprah Winfrey Network, PBS, HBO, and NBC.[33] In May 2014, he produced a three-part PBS series, Coming Back with Wes Moore, which followed the lives and experiences of returning veterans.[34][35][36]

In 2014, Moore founded BridgeEdU, a company that provided services to support students in their transition to college.[37] Students participating in BridgeEdU paid $500 into the program with varying fees.[38] BridgeEdU was not able to achieve financial stability and was acquired by student financial services company Edquity in 2019, mostly for its database of clients.[39][40] A Baltimore Banner interview with former BridgeEdU students found that the short-lived company had mixed results.[40]

In September 2016, Moore produced All the Difference, a PBS documentary that followed the lives of two young African-American men from the South Side of Chicago from high school through college and beyond.[41][42] Later that month, he launched Future City, an interview-based talk show with Baltimore’s WYPR station.[43][44][45]

From June 2017 until May 2021, Moore was CEO of the Robin Hood Foundation, a charitable organization that attempts to alleviate problems caused by poverty in New York City. It works mainly through funding schools, food pantries and shelters. It also administers a disaster relief fund.[46][47][1][48] During his tenure as CEO, the organization also raised more than $650 million, including $230 million in 2020 to provide increased need for assistance during the COVID-19 pandemic.[49] Moore also sought to expand his advocacy to include America’s poor and transform the organization into a national force in the poverty fight.[50] Moore served on Under Armour‘s board of directors from September 2020 to November 2022, resigning from the board shortly after becoming governor-elect.[39][51]

Books

On April 27, 2010, Spiegel & Grau published his first book, The Other Wes Moore.[52] The 200-page book explores the lives of two young Baltimore boys who shared the same name and race, but largely different familial histories that leads them both down very different paths.[15][53][54] In December 2012, Moore announced that The Other Wes Moore would be developed into a feature film, with Oprah Winfrey attached as an executive producer.[55] In September 2013, Ember published his second book, Discovering Wes Moore. The book maintains the message and story set out in The Other Wes Moore, but is more accessible to young adults.[56] In April 2021, Unanimous Media announced it would adapt The Other Wes Moore into a feature film.[57] As of June 2022, a film has yet to be produced.[58]

In January 2015, Moore wrote his third book, The Work.[59] In November 2016, he wrote This Way Home, a young adult novel about Elijah, a high school basketball player, who emerges from a standoff with a local gang after they attempt to recruit him to their basketball team, and he refuses.[60] In March 2020, Moore and former Baltimore Sun education reporter Erica L. Green wrote Five Days: The Fiery Reckoning of an American City, which explores the 2015 Baltimore protests from the perspectives of eight Baltimoreans who experienced it on the front lines.[61][62]

Political activities

Moore first expressed interest in politics in June 1996, telling a New York Times reporter that he planned to attend law school and enter politics after two years at Valley Forge.[63] He told The Baltimore Sun in October 2022 that he felt the idea of holding elected office “only started to feel like a real possibility in 2020, when he was about to leave his job running Robin Hood”.[31]

Moore (center) at a Maryland Democratic Party picnic, 2014

Moore gave a speech at the 2008 Democratic National Convention, supporting Barack Obama for president.[64][65] In 2013, he said that he had “no interest” in running for public office, instead focusing on his business and volunteer work.[66] Later that year, Attorney General Doug Gansler said that he considered Moore as his running mate in the 2014 Maryland gubernatorial election, in which he ran with state delegate Jolene Ivey.[67]

In April 2015, following the 2015 Baltimore protests, Moore said that the demonstrations in Baltimore were a “long time coming”[68] and that Baltimore “must seize this moment to redress systemic problems and grow.”[69] Moore attended the funeral for Freddie Gray but left early to catch a plane to Boston for a speech he was giving on urban poverty. He later said he “felt guilty being away, but it wasn’t just that. An audience in Boston would listen to me talk about poverty, but at a historic moment in my own city’s history, I was MIA.”[70] On the eighth anniversary of Gray’s death in April 2023, Moore made a tweet calling his death a “turning point not just those who knew Gray personally, but the entire city”.[71]

In February 2017, Governor Larry Hogan nominated Moore to serve on the University System of Maryland Board of Regents.[72]

In October 2020, Moore was named to serve on the transition team of Baltimore mayor-elect Brandon Scott.[73] In January 2021, Speaker of the Maryland House of Delegates Adrienne A. Jones consulted with Moore to craft her “Black agenda” to tackle racial inequalities in housing, health, banking, government, and private corporations.[74]

Controversies

In June 2013, a Baltimore Sun investigation alleged that Moore was improperly receiving homestead property tax credits and owed back taxes to the city of Baltimore. Moore told The Sun that he was unaware of any issues with the home’s taxes and wanted to pay what they owed immediately.[75] In October 2022, Baltimore Brew reported that Moore had not paid any water and sewage charges since March 2021, owing $21,200 to the city of Baltimore.[76] Moore settled his outstanding bills shortly after the article was published.[77]

In April 2022, the family of Baltimore County Police Sergeant Bruce Prothero, whose murder in 2000 is highlighted in The Other Wes Moore, accused Moore of making contradictory statements about where the proceeds of the book went, saying that the family “directed no donations” to anywhere, including the nonprofits Moore named.[78][79] The family also complained that Moore exaggerated his role in their son’s life.[80]

Moore was the subject of a CNN article in which he was accused of embellishing his childhood and where he actually grew up.[81] Shortly after the article was published, Moore created a website that attempted to rebut the allegations.[82] He was later criticized for failing to correct television interviewers who incorrectly said he was awarded a Bronze Star.[83][84] A Capital News Service article highlighted Moore’s connections to various industries, including pharmaceutical, technology, beauty and retail giants, and the Green Thumb Industries cannabis company.[85] Moore left Green Thumb Industries in March 2022,[86] and said in October that he would use a blind trust to hold his assets and resign from every board position if elected governor.[87][88] In May 2023, Moore finalized his trust, making him the first governor to have one since Bob Ehrlich.[89]

Governor of Maryland

Elections

2022

Wes Moore and Aruna Miller stand in front of a campaign bus with a crowd of supporters
Moore campaigning in October 2022

In February 2021, Moore announced he was considering a run for governor of Maryland in the 2022 election.[90] He launched his campaign on June 7, 2021,[91][92] emphasizing “work, wages, and wealth”[93][94] and running on the slogan “leave no one behind”.[95][96] His running mate was Aruna Miller, a former state delegate who represented Maryland’s 15th district from 2010 to 2019.[97]

During the primary, Moore was endorsed by House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer,[98] Prince George’s County executive Angela Alsobrooks,[99] television host Oprah Winfrey,[100] and former Governor Parris Glendening.[101] He also received backing from the Maryland State Education Association[102] and VoteVets.org.[103]

On April 6, 2022, Moore filed a complaint with the Maryland State Board of Elections against the gubernatorial campaign of John King Jr., accusing “an unidentified party” of anonymously disseminating “false and disparaging information regarding Wes Moore via electronic mail and social media in an orchestrated attempt to disparage Mr. Moore and damage his candidacy.” The complaint also suggested that King “may be responsible for this smear campaign”, which the King campaign denied.[104][105] In April 2024, King’s campaign was fined $2,000 after prosecutors connected the email address to an IP address used by Joseph O’Hearn, King’s campaign manager.[106]

Moore won the Democratic primary on July 19, 2022, defeating former Democratic National Committee chairman Tom Perez and Comptroller Peter Franchot with 32.4% of the vote.[107] During the general election, Moore twice campaigned with U.S. President Joe Biden.[108][109] He also campaigned on reclaiming “patriotism” from Republicans, highlighting his service in the U.S. Army while also bringing attention to Republican nominee and state delegate Dan Cox‘s participation in the January 6 United States Capitol attack.[110][111][112] Moore defeated Cox in the general election,[3] and became Maryland’s first Black governor[113] and the first veteran to be elected governor since William Donald Schaefer.[96]

In December 2022, Moore was elected to serve as finance chair of the Democratic Governors Association.[114]

Tenure

Moore takes the oath of office at his public swearing in with his wife and children
Moore being sworn in as governor, 2023

Moore was sworn in on January 18, 2023.[115][116][117] He took the oath of office on a Bible owned by abolitionist Frederick Douglass, as well as his grandfather’s Bible.[118][119] The morning before his inauguration, Moore participated in a wreath-laying ceremony at the Kunta KinteAlex Haley Memorial at the Annapolis City Dock to “acknowledge the journey” that led to him becoming the third elected Black governor in U.S. history.[120][121][122] Later that night, he held a celebratory event at the Baltimore Convention Center.[123][124]

During the 2023 legislative session, Moore testified for several of his administration’s bills, making him the first governor to do so since Martin O’Malley.[125]

Cabinet

Moore began announcing nominations for his 26-member cabinet on November 14, 2022.[126][127] He finished announcing his cabinet nominees on April 12, 2023, with the nomination of Sanjay Rai as Secretary for the Maryland Higher Education Commission.[128] According to The Baltimore Banner, Moore assembled his cabinet at a slower pace than previous Maryland governors.[129]

Twelve of Moore’s cabinet nominees are women and 14 are people of color.[130][131][132] His nominees have mixed experience in government, social entrepreneurship, and philanthropy.[133][134] Three of them, Secretary of Emergency Management Russell Strickland, Maryland State Police superintendent Roland Butler, and Secretary of Public Safety and Correctional Services Carolyn Scruggs, are holdovers from the Hogan administration.[135][136][137]

As his chief of staff, Moore chose Fagan Harris, who co-founded the Baltimore Corps organization with Moore a decade ago.[138] Moore also named three members of the Maryland General Assembly to his administration: state senator Paul G. Pinsky as Director of the Maryland Energy Administration;[139] state senator Susan C. Lee as Secretary of State;[140] and House of Delegates Majority Leader Eric Luedtke as chief legislative officer.[138] Other notable Cabinet nominations included Salisbury mayor Jacob R. Day as Secretary of Housing and Community Development,[141] former New York City Department of Correction commissioner Vincent Schiraldi as Secretary of Juvenile Services, Anthony Woods as Secretary of Veterans Affairs,[142] and former WMATA general manager Paul Wiedefeld as Secretary of Transportation.[143]

All but two of Moore’s cabinet nominees were unanimously confirmed by the Maryland Senate: Schiraldi, who faced opposition from Republicans over his policies toward juvenile justice reform;[144] and Butler, whose critics claimed had not done enough to address complaints of racism and disparate treatment of Black officers in the Maryland State Police.[145]

Political positions

During an August 2006 interview with C-SPAN, Moore said he identified as a “social moderate and strong fiscal conservative”.[146] In September 2022, he reiterated his position on fiscal issues as being “fiscally responsible”.[147] During his gubernatorial campaign, he was described as center-left,[148] as well as progressive.[149][150]

Moore has cited Jared Polis, Parris Glendening, and Roy Cooper as his political role models.[101][150]

Domestic policy

Crime and policing

Moore greeting police officers in Hanover, Maryland, 2023

Moore supports hiring more probation and parole officers, pursuing police misconduct allegations, and increasing resources for law enforcement agencies.[30][151] In February 2022, he unveiled a public safety plan that includes improving offender services, improving police diversity, and supporting and funding community-based policing and violence intervention programs.[152][153] Moore says he “believes in policing with maximum accountability and appropriate intensity”,[154] and would provide funding for community-based violence intervention programs to address violent crime.[155] In an interview with MSNBC on August 30, 2022, Moore said that he would tackle crime in Baltimore by investing in violence intervention programs like Safe Streets and We Our Us.[156][157] In September 2022, Moore said he would use the “bully pulpit” of the governor’s office to help recruit officers[158] and would give the state’s Fraternal Order of Police a seat at the table, telling The Washington Post, “I don’t think that you can be serious about actually implementing reforms if the agencies that have to be reformed are not part of the process.”[147]

Moore has blamed his predecessor, Governor Larry Hogan, for increased violent crime in Maryland, citing his lack of collaboration between his administration and local leaders and legislators.[159] During his campaign, he called on Hogan to target state resources toward preventing gun violence in Baltimore[160] and campaigned on addressing crime in the city through better cooperation between the city and state, and to leverage these relationships on the federal level to bring more resources into the city.[161][162] In January 2023, Moore told CBS News that he supported a bill that would prohibit charging juveniles with felony murder.[163]

In January 2023, following the release of videos capturing the arrest and police assault of Tyre Nichols, Moore condemned the brutality of the police and thanked the U.S. Department of Justice for opening an investigation into Nichols’s death.[164][165] He later said in an interview that Nichols’s death only highlighted the need to tackle injustice head-on.[93]

In February 2023, Moore pledged $11 million in funding for the Maryland Coordination and Analysis Center, an agency that serves as a data-sharing platform for law enforcement officials across the state.[166] He also said that his administration would not use a quota system for traffic stops and arrests after a Baltimore Banner investigation found that Maryland State Police supervisors previously demanded troopers hit targets for traffic stops and arrests.[167][168] In June 2023, Moore released $5 million in funding from the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 toward youth intervention efforts to deter violent crime around the state.[159][169]

In July 2023, following mass shootings in Baltimore and Salisbury that left a combined three dead and 34 injured, Moore released a statement expressing his condolences and spoke in support of gun violence prevention efforts in Baltimore.[170][171] He ruled out calls to form a special session to pass legislation to address gun violence, saying it was not needed,[172] but said he supported increased policing and longer sentences for repeat violent offenders.[173]

In January 2024, Moore introduced three bills aimed at improving public safety, including one to create apprenticeships in public safety to increase law enforcement retention and another to compensate victims of crime.[174] He also expressed support for lengthening probation periods for violent juvenile offenders and increasing the severity for gun crimes from misdemeanors to felonies,[175] and another bill to restrict sex offenders’ ability to earn “good time” credits that reduce their sentence following the murder of Pava LaPere.[176] He also supported a bill that would allow minors to be charged with certain crimes and enable courts to extend probation limits for juveniles.[177]

Development initiatives

Moore (center) on the Maryland Board of Public Works, 2023

As governor, Moore is a member of the Maryland Board of Public Works—a constitutionally appointed body that oversees many aspects of the state’s finances—along with the comptroller and the state treasurer. During his first board meeting in January 2023, Moore said the state would work to include more diverse businesses in state contracts.[178][179]

In November 2022, Moore said that he would not support spending state funds to keep the Washington Commanders in Maryland. The Commanders are contractually obligated to play at FedExField until September 2027.[180] In April 2023, he said he supported spending some taxpayer money on a new Commanders football stadium “if we know there’s going to be a significant societal return on the investment”.[181]

In December 2022, Moore said he supported bringing the new Federal Bureau of Investigation headquarters to Prince George’s County, calling it a “personal priority”.[182][183][184] In March 2023, Moore joined Democratic members of Maryland’s congressional delegation and Prince George’s County Executive Angela Alsobrooks in co-signing a letter to President Joe Biden asking him to get involved in the FBI’s headquarters selection process.[185] In November 2023, the General Services Administration announced that it would locate the FBI’s new headquarters in Greenbelt, Maryland.[186]

In February 2023, Moore announced a $600 million five-year partnership with the Baltimore Orioles to develop properties around Camden Yards.[187] In September, he and Orioles CEO John P. Angelos announced a memorandum of understanding that would extend the team’s lease by 30 years, open development rights inside the park to private developers, and give the Orioles control over stadium operations and maintenance.[188][189] The stadium lease was finalized in December, but an agreement on the team’s ground lease and redevelopment plan was postponed until 2027 following concerns from Senate President Bill Ferguson.[190][191]

In May 2024, Moore signed into law a bill that would transfer ownership of the Pimlico Race Course to the Maryland Thoroughbred Racetrack Operating Authority, allowing for a state-funded, multi-million dollar renovation project of the race course’s track to begin and for the construction of a new training center at a separate location. The bill would also consolidate thoroughbred racing in Maryland to Pimlico and have the Maryland state government assume responsibility over racing operations at the course by next year.[192]

Education

Moore supports the Blueprint for Maryland’s Future reform effort,[102][193] testifying before the state legislature to urge its passage.[194] During his campaign, he said that he would “work closely with local governments to make sure they are on board with their commitments to the Blueprint”.[195] In September 2022, Moore said he would institute universal pre-K and apprenticeship and trade programs in schools,[95][196] and promised increases for school construction, educator wages, after-school programs, tutoring, child care, and early childhood education.[197] In his first budget in January 2023, Moore proposed allocating $500 million toward funding the Blueprint,[198] which was later increased to $900 million by state legislators.[199]

Moore does not support the expansion of charter schools, saying that he wants to focus on improving public school districts, but wants to ensure accountability for current charters.[194] In his first budget, in January 2023, Moore cut funding for the state’s Broadening Options and Opportunities for Students Today (BOOST) program to provide scholarships to students attending charter schools by $2 million,[200] and introduced new eligibility limits for current BOOST students and their siblings.[201] In an interview with Jewish Insider, Moore said he intended to get rid of the BOOST program in a few years, adding, “The focus that I have, the focus that our administration is going to have, is making sure that we are creating and developing world-class public schools for our students.”[202] The budget was amended to reduce these cuts by $1 million in March 2023,[199] and signed into law in April.[203]

Moore supports creating a “service year option” in schools, which would enable high school graduates to do a gap year “in exchange for job training, mentorship, and other support including compensatory tuition at a state college or university.”[150][204] On January 19, 2023, Moore signed an executive order creating the Maryland Department of Service and Civic Innovation, a cabinet-level agency responsible for establishing a service-year option for all high school graduates.[205] In February, he introduced the SERVE Act to create the “service year option program”, which would pay young people $15 per hour for at least 30 hours a week for work in service to the community.[206] The SERVE Act was signed into law in April 2023.[203] The service year program launched with 280 participating students in October 2023.[207]

In November 2022, Moore called a plan to cancel up to $20,000 in federal student loan debt a “good first step” and said he would push the Biden administration to forgive more federal student debt if elected governor.[26]

In May 2023, during a commencement speech at Morehouse College, Moore criticized efforts to ban books and restrict curriculum in schools, suggesting that politicians who sought to “silence or rewrite the history of Black and brown people are actually afraid of people understanding their power”.[208][209]

In June 2023, Moore said he opposed the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling in Students for Fair Admissions v. Harvard, which held that race-based affirmative action in college admissions violated the Equal Protection Clause, calling it a “misguided ruling”.[210]

Environment

During his campaign, Moore criticized the Hogan administration for a “failure of executive leadership” on fighting climate change.[211] He supports the renewable energy goals set by the state’s Clean Energy Jobs Act of 2019, which called for a 50% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions and an electrification of the state’s vehicle fleet by 2030, and has said the state should pursue “more ambitious goals” beyond carbon neutrality.[212] He also proposed regulations to achieve 100% clean energy use by 2035 and net zero carbon emissions by 2045, electrify the state’s fleet, and prioritize environmental-justice funding.[213] Moore also said that he would establish a “cap-and-invest” program in Maryland, which would tax polluters to provide revenue for clean energy infrastructure and relief in communities of color,[212] and promised to hire a “climate czar” in his administration,[214] whom he appointed in November 2023.[215]

Moore said he would support Chesapeake Bay restoration efforts by promoting “accountability and enforcement” in Maryland, as well as in neighboring states, use federal funds to upgrade water and wastewater systems, and by increasing the number of environmental inspectors.[211] In October 2022, he told Lancaster Farming that he would develop a plan to accelerate projects to improve water quality and cut carbon emissions in his administration’s first 100 days, and supported the restoration of the state’s Chesapeake Bay Restoration Fund.[216] In July 2023, Moore signed an executive order to refocus cleanup efforts onto shallow areas of the bay, and another establishing the Council on the Chesapeake and Coastal Bays to research state policy on oyster restoration and harvesting.[217] In October 2023, he was appointed as the chair of the Chesapeake Executive Council.[218]

In April 2022, Moore signed a Chesapeake Climate Action Network pledge to support legislation to get Maryland to use 100 percent carbon-free electricity by 2035 and to remove trash incineration from the state’s “clean energy” classification.[219] In March 2023, he set a goal of achieving 8.5 gigawatts of wind power generation in the state by 2031,[220] which was later codified after he signed the POWER Act in April 2023.[221]

In October 2022, Moore told Lancaster Farming that he would support farmers by eliminating burdensome regulations, preserving farmland, and giving farmers technical assistance and financial resources.[216]

In February 2023, Moore introduced the Clean Transportation and Energy Act, which increases incentives for people and businesses looking to purchase electric trucks and charging stations.[222] In March 2023, he said he supported adopting California’s Advanced Clean Cars II (ACC II) regulation, which would phase out the sale of gas-powered cars in the state by 2035.[223][224] In April 2023, he signed the Clean Transportation and Energy Act and several other bills aimed at strengthening the state’s offshore wind energy industry into law.[221] In August 2023, Moore said he supported a proposal by then-Governor Hogan to delay emissions testing on new cars from three to six years, despite initially withdrawing the proposal earlier in his term due to equity concerns, after the Maryland Motor Vehicle Administration found that the change would have no severe impacts on equity.[225]

Gun policy

Moore speaks at a Moms Demand Action rally in Annapolis, 2023

In 2022, Moore supported a bill to ban the possession and sale of privately made firearms in Maryland. He supports creating a firearms database to help law enforcement track guns used in crimes. In June 2022, Moore condemned the Supreme Court’s ruling in New York State Rifle & Pistol Association, Inc. v. Bruen, calling it a “misguided and dangerous decision.” He also opposed Governor Hogan’s decision to suspend the state’s “good and substantial reason” standard for obtaining a concealed carry permit following the ruling.[226]

In January 2023, Moore attended a Moms Demand Action rally in Annapolis, Maryland, where he said he would support the Gun Safety Act of 2023.[227] The bill would increase the requirements and fees to obtain a handgun permit, strengthen safe storage requirements, and prohibit gun owners from carrying guns near schools, government property, construction areas, or entertainment venues, and from entering someone’s property while carrying a firearm unless given permission by the owner.[228] Moore signed the bill into law on May 16, 2023.[229] That same day, the National Rifle Association of America (NRA) filed a lawsuit in federal court challenging the law’s location restrictions.[230] In September 2023, two days before the law was set to go into effect, U.S. District Judge George L. Russell III blocked sections of the bill restricting open carry near public demonstrations and private buildings, but upheld the remainder of the bill.[231]

In November 2023, Moore expressed disappointment with a Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals ruling that struck down a provision of the state’s Firearm Safety Act of 2013 that required handgun owners to obtain a “handgun qualification license” to buy a handgun.[232]

Health care

In an interview with The Daily Record before becoming governor, Moore expressed support for the End-of-Life Options Act, which would allow terminally ill adults to request medical aid in dying.[233]

In January 2023, Moore proposed providing members of the Maryland National Guard with free health and dental care;[234] legislators later amended the bill to cap monthly reimbursements at $60 a month.[235] In May 2023, he signed into law the Josh Siems Act, a bill that would require emergency rooms to include fentanyl testing in toxicology screens.[236]

Housing

Moore supports the right to counsel in eviction cases, saying that providing tenants with access to counsel is “the just thing to do and it is the right thing to do”.[237][238] On his campaign website, he says he would address the “unfair appraisal values in historically redlined neighborhoods” and provide increased funding for the Maryland Department of Housing and Community Development.[147] During a town hall in August 2023, Moore suggested that nonprofits could be used to help lower housing costs in addition to increasing the state’s affordable housing inventory and supporting current homeowners.[239]

In January 2024, Moore introduced bills to increase federal funding and reducing barriers for affordable housing projects in the state, especially those around commuter rail stations, as well as legislation establishing a “Tenant’s Bill of Rights” and providing additional protections to renters against evictions.[240] While Moore’s tenant protections bills passed the legislature unchanged,[241] legislators opted to weaken the Housing Expansion and Affordability Act by removing provisions that would block jurisdictions from using an adequate public facilities ordinance to block the construction of affordable housing and modifying the qualifications needed for affordable housing projects to be eligible for density bonuses.[242]

Immigration

Moore supports a balance between securing the United States’ borders and creating pathways to citizenship for those already in the country.[243] In June 2023, Moore announced he would support efforts to strengthen the federal temporary protected status policy for immigrants living in the United States.[244] He also said he did not support sending members of the Maryland National Guard to the Mexico–United States border.[245]

Marijuana

Moore supported legislation introduced and passed during the 2022 legislative session that created a ballot referendum to legalize recreational marijuana in Maryland, and another bill that would regulate marijuana possession should the referendum pass in November. During his campaign, he has talked about implementing a recreational cannabis industry with a focus on equity “so that communities that have experienced the greatest disparities benefit the most.”[226][246] In October 2022, Moore praised President Joe Biden‘s pardon of thousands of people convicted of marijuana possession under federal law,[247][248] and said that he would “fight to expunge the records of those arrested for marijuana possession [as governor]”.[249]

In January 2023, Moore signed an executive order releasing $46.5 million to start developing the framework for a recreational marijuana industry in the state, with a majority of the released funds going toward grants for minority-owned firms.[205] In May 2023, he signed a bill regulating the state’s recreational marijuana industry.[250]

In May 2023, Moore allowed a bill that prohibits police from stopping a vehicle solely based on if they smell marijuana to become law without his signature.[251]

National politics

Moore with President Joe Biden at a campaign event in November 2022

In July 2019, Moore criticized President Donald Trump‘s “rat and rodent infested mess” comments toward the city of Baltimore.[252]

Moore supports a two-state solution to the Israeli–Palestinian conflict.[253] In December 2022, he attended the Jewish Community Relations Council of Greater Washington’s legislative breakfast, where he said he would be “very aggressive” in promoting trade between Maryland and Israel and promised that one of his first overseas visits would be to Israel.[254] He expressed solidarity with Israel amid the October 7 Hamas-led attack on Israel,[255][256] and later supported an immediate ceasefire in the Israel–Hamas war.[253]

Social issues

In June 2021, Moore opposed voter-ID legislation introduced by state senator Justin Ready, calling it “voter suppression”.[257] In September 2022, Moore said he opposed a lawsuit filed by state delegate Dan Cox against the Maryland State Board of Elections to block the early counting of Maryland’s mail-in ballots in the 2022 elections, alleging that Cox was trying to sow distrust and uncertainty in the electoral system.[258] In April 2023, Moore signed a bill to allow counties to begin counting mail-in ballots before Election Day.[259] Before this bill was enacted, Maryland was the only state that restricted the processing of absentee ballots until after Election Day, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.[260]

Governor Moore signing a proclamation recognizing International Transgender Day of Visibility, surrounded by trans rights advocates and seated alongside Susan C. Lee and Aruna Miller.
Moore signing a proclamation recognizing International Transgender Day of Visibility, 2023

In 2022, Moore said he supported the Inclusive Schools Act, a bill introduced in the 2022 legislative session that bans schools from discriminating against students based on their sexual orientation and gender identity. He also supported the Trans Health Equity Act, a bill that would have required the state’s Medicaid program to cover gender-affirming treatment.[226][261] In December 2022, Moore praised the signing of the Respect for Marriage Act, which codifies same-sex and interracial marriage rights.[262] On March 31, 2023, Moore became the first Maryland governor to recognize International Transgender Day of Visibility when he issued an official proclamation.[263] In May 2023, he signed the Trans Health Equity Act into law[250] and allowed a bill furthering an earlier repeal of the state’s sodomy law to become law without his signature.[264] In June 2023, Moore signed an executive order to protect people or entities that provide gender-affirming care from legal punishments by other states.[265]

In June 2022, following the Supreme Court‘s ruling in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, Moore said that he would support an amendment to the Maryland Constitution to enshrine abortion access.[266][267] He also pledged to release $3.5 million in funding for the Abortion Care Access Act, a bill passed in the 2022 legislative session that would expand the types of medical professionals who can perform abortions in Maryland, on his first day in office.[268] On January 19, 2023, Moore signed his first executive order releasing $3.5 million in funding for training healthcare providers in abortion care under the Abortion Care Access Act.[205] In February 2023, Moore joined the Reproductive Freedom Alliance, an interstate gubernatorial agreement led by California Governor Gavin Newsom intended to strengthen abortion access in member states.[269] In May 2023, he signed a pair of bills into law aimed at protecting patients seeking an abortion and increase access to abortion medication, and a bill creating a 2024 referendum on codifying the right to abortion access into the Maryland Constitution.[250] In February 2024, Moore criticized the Alabama Supreme Court‘s ruling in LePage v. Center for Reproductive Medicine, which held that frozen embryos had the same rights as children, calling it “out of step”.[270]

In April 2023, after a federal court ruling repealed the Food and Drug Administration‘s approval of mifepristone, Moore said the state would begin stockpiling enough of the abortion pill to last two and a half years.[271] In June 2023, he voted to approve $1.3 million toward purchasing 30,000 doses of mifepristone and 5,000 doses of misoprostol.[272]

In April 2023, following an investigation by Maryland Attorney General Brian Frosh into child sexual abuse in the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Baltimore, Attorney General Anthony Brown released a 463-page report accusing the archdiocese of covering up more than 600 cases of child sexual abuse against 156 Catholic priests over 60 years.[273] On April 11, 2023, Moore signed the Maryland Child Victims Act, which eliminates the statute of limitations on child sexual abuse lawsuits.[274]

Transportation

Moore opposed Governor Hogan’s decision to cancel the Red Line, and said during his campaign that he supported restarting the rail project.[275][276][277] During his campaign, he called for an “intermodal Red Line, that is built quickly, cost-effectively, and with community input on stops, disruptions, and impact on local businesses”.[278] In November 2022, Moore said he would support creating a regional transit authority for working on projects.[279] On June 15, 2023, Moore announced that he would seek federal funding to restart efforts to build the Red Line.[280]

Moore does not support Governor Hogan’s plan to widen portions of the Capital Beltway and Interstate 270 using high-occupancy toll lanes, saying that he would instead support a transit line alongside I-270 and a proposed transit line from Prince George’s County to Charles County.[212] Critics have accused Moore of flip-flopping on this stance after he told the Maryland Transit Opportunities that he would be willing to dedicate federal funds to the project, issuing a statement afterwards saying that he would be open to toll lanes if there were strong public consensus.[281] In a radio interview with WAMU in July 2022, he said he preferred a “new type of proposal” for the I-270 toll lanes plan that included reversible lanes, increased transit, and greater collaboration with local “stakeholders.”[282] In August 2023, Moore requested $2.4 billion in federal funding to add managed lanes to parts of the Capital Beltway and I-270, and to rebuild the American Legion Memorial Bridge.[283][284]

In December 2022, Moore said he would view all transportation issues, including the I-270 and I-495 expansion efforts, through a “lens” of equity, environmental protection, and local partnership.[285]

In his first budget in January 2023, Moore proposed allocating $500 million toward unspecified transportation projects.[198] When asked by the Capital Gazette if this money would be used for the Red Line, Moore said that he had spoken with federal officials about restarting the line and that he did not want to “start from scratch”. He also said he planned to use federal funds and public-private partnerships in transportation projects, including the Purple and Red lines.[286] The budget was amended to reduce this funding to $100 million, but also gave the governor the ability to tap the state’s “rainy day” fund for an extra $100 million.[287]

In July 2023, after the Maryland Transit Administration announced that the opening of the Purple Line would be delayed until spring 2027, Moore promised to complete the Purple Line during his tenure and to prevent future delays.[288] After the Purple Line was further delayed in March 2024, Moore blamed his predecessor, Larry Hogan, for creating “boondoggles of challenges” that led to delays on the rail line project.[289]

In December 2023, facing a long-term budget shortfall, Moore announced a six-year plan to cut the state’s transportation budget by $3.3 billion, or eight percent, including a $1.6 billion cut to “all major highway expansion construction projects” and a $652 million cut to transit expansion projects. The proposed plan would reduce commuter bus services and lines, delay the state’s transition to electric buses, and cancel plans to expand the Brunswick Line.[290][291] He later announced a one-year infusion of $150 million to the state’s transportation fund, with most of the added funding being used to restore highway user revenue funding, to ease the effects of the cuts.[292]

In March 2024, following the Francis Scott Key Bridge collapse, Moore declared a state of emergency[293] and called the disaster a “global crisis”.[294] He also thanked Maryland Transportation Authority Police officers for closing the bridge after receiving mayday calls from the MV Dali, which prevented additional deaths during the collapse.[295] In the legislature, Moore supported the PORT Act, a bill introduced by Senate President Bill Ferguson to provide $60 million in financial assistance to workers and businesses affected by the subsequent closure of the Port of Baltimore[296] and introduced a bill that would create a permanent state scholarship for the children of surviving spouses of maintenance workers killed during the bridge collapse, which was later amended into the PORT Act.[297]

Fiscal issues

Economy

Before taking office, Maryland’s economic outlook was among the lowest in the nation, according to the American Legislative Exchange Council.[298] Over the past decade, the state’s gross domestic product (GDP) had only grown by 11 percent, compared to a 23 percent growth nationally, and ranked in the bottom 10 states in several economic factors, including economic momentum, change in personal income, and population growth.[299] At the same time, the state had a $2.5 billion budget surplus from a combination of federal pandemic aid and a tightening of state spending, $2.9 billion in its “rainy day fund”,[300][301] and low unemployment numbers.[302]

During the 2023 legislative session, Moore introduced the Innovation Economy Infrastructure Act, which would provide $10 million in grants for “infrastructure projects in eligible technology sectors”; the Access to Banking Act, which incentives banking institutions to locate in low- and moderate-income areas of the state; and the Broadband Expansion Act, which initially offered tax incentives to the broadband internet industry[206] but was later watered down to a bill to study how to incentivize broadband expansion.[235] All three bills were signed into law in May 2023.[303]

In May 2023, Moore signed an executive order creating the Innovation and Impact Council, which would investigate ways the state could partner with businesses and nonprofits to address social and equity issues.[304] In June, he signed another executive order to establish the Maryland Economic Council, which was tasked with developing economic development strategies for the state.[305]

In August 2023, following a report from the Maryland Department of Legislative Services predicting that the state’s budget deficits would increase to $1.8 billion annually by 2028, Moore cautioned that the state would enter a “season of discipline”.[306][307] He also pledged to hire a chief performance officer, later naming Asma Mirza, the deputy for implementation management for the White House Infrastructure Implementation Team, to the position.[308]

In October 2023, Moore said he would support giving municipalities the ability to designate local “tourism zones”.[309]

Labor

Moore rallying with AFSCME union members, 2023

Before taking office, the Maryland Department of Legislative Services reported a “historically high” level of vacancies in state government, with only three departments in the executive branch having vacancy rates lower than 10 percent.[310] During his campaign, Moore promised to fill 5,000 vacancies within his first year in office,[311] and included raises up to 18 percent for state employees to incentivize recruitment and retention.[299] As of October 2023, only 791 positions had been filled, according to data from the Maryland Department of Legislative Services.[312]

In February 2023, Moore said he would scrap the Maryland Aviation Administration‘s controversial contract process to run concessions operations at Baltimore/Washington International Airport.[313][314] In March, he promised to include a “labor peace” agreement in future BWI concessions operations contracts.[315] The BWI contract bidding process restarted in September 2023, and includes provisions to include the labor peace agreement, which would allow service workers to unionize but prohibited strikes.[316]

During the 2024 legislative session, Moore will introduce the Families Serve Act, which would allow employers to give preference to military dependents in hiring; and the Time to Serve Act, which doubles the amount of days of leave state employees can take to fulfill duties in military reserves. He also supported bills to ban discrimination toward military members in hiring.[317]

Minimum wage

During his campaign, Moore said that he would accelerate the state’s incremental increase to a minimum wage of $15 an hour by 2023.[94][318] He also supports indexing the state’s minimum wage to inflation.[319] At the beginning of the 2023 legislative session, Moore introduced the Fair Wage Act, a bill that would accelerate the state’s minimum wage build-up to reach $15 an hour by October 2023[198][320] and index the minimum wage to the consumer price index starting in July 2025, with increases capped at five percent per year.[222] The Senate Finance Committee amended the bill to remove provisions linking it to the consumer price index and delayed the wage increase until January 1, 2024.[321][322] Moore signed the bill into law on April 11, 2023.[323] He also allocated $218 million in his first budget to support state service providers in keeping up with the accelerated wage increase.[324]

Taxes

During his tenure as CEO of the Robin Hood Foundation, Moore pushed for New York legislators and Governor Andrew Cuomo to expand the state’s child tax credit, and lobbied for the issue to be mentioned in Cuomo’s State of the State speech.[93]

During his campaign, Moore repeatedly said that he does not anticipate raising taxes as governor,[147][302][325] but said in September 2022 that he planned to work with the legislature to fix what he described as the state’s “upside-down taxation system”.[147] In January 2024, he expressed openness to raising taxes to address the state’s budget shortfall, but said that any conversation about taxes would have a “very high bar”.[326]

In May 2022, following a spike in gas prices as the result of the Russo-Ukrainian War, Moore said he supported staving off automatic increases to the state’s gas tax, arguing that voters needed immediate relief[327] and later calling it a “regressive tax”.[328] In September 2022, Moore told the Maryland Family Network that he would support child care programs by subsidizing the service through tax credits for low-income families.[95] He also expressed interest in eliminating either the state’s estate or inheritance tax to make the state more attractive to retirees.[147] In June 2023, Moore said he supported shifting transportation funding away from the state’s gas tax as well as decoupling it from inflation, but opposed calling a special session to do so, instead preferring to pass tax reforms during the 2024 legislative session.[329]

In his first budget in January 2023, Moore introduced the Family Prosperity Act, which allocates $171 million toward making permanent the earned income tax credit passed by lawmakers in 2021, and the Keep Our Heroes Home Act, which provides $33 million for expanding tax exemptions for military retirement income;[198][234] legislators later scaled down the Keep Our Heroes Home Act to only raise the state’s income exemption limit to $20,000 for older veterans and $12,500 for younger ones.[330] Moore signed both bills into law in April and May 2023,[331][332] as well as another bill to allow workers to deduct union dues from their income taxes.[333]

Welfare

Moore testifying before the Senate Committee on Finance in 2010

In September 2010, Moore testified in support of reauthorizing the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families federal assistance program.[334] In July 2021, he opposed Governor Hogan’s decision to end expanded federal unemployment benefits provided by the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 early.[335] In December 2022, Moore said he supported indexing the state’s maximum unemployment insurance payment to inflation.[319]

In August 2022, Moore supported protests led by veterans at the United States Capitol to pass the Honoring our PACT Act of 2022, which would provide benefits for veterans exposed to burn pits and other toxic phenomena.[336]

During his gubernatorial campaign, Moore said he supported establishing a state “baby bonds” program, which would cost roughly $100 million per year and be seeded with $3,200 for every child born on Medicaid, to target the racial wealth gap. If enacted, it would be the largest baby bond program ever enacted in the United States.[337]

During the 2024 legislative session, Moore introduced the ENOUGH Act, a bill to provide $15 million in grants toward underserved communities.[338]

Personal life

Moore and his family at his gubernatorial inauguration, 2023

Moore met his future wife, Dawn (née Flythe), over coffee at The Diner in Washington, D.C., while she was working on Kathleen Kennedy Townsend‘s 2002 gubernatorial campaign.[339] They moved to the Riverside community in Baltimore in 2006.[75] The couple eloped in Las Vegas while he was on a brief leave from Afghanistan and were married by an Elvis impersonator.[340] Their official wedding ceremony was held on July 6, 2007.[341] They have two children, born 2011 and 2013.[342]

In late 2008, the Moores moved from Riverside to Guilford, where they lived until Moore’s election as governor in 2022.[343] They reside in Government House, the official residence of the Maryland governor and First Family in Annapolis, Maryland.[344]

From 2015 to 2023, Moore attended services at the Southern Baptist Church in east Baltimore.[345]

In July 2023, Moore received an honorary degree from the University of the Commonwealth Caribbean.[346]

Military decorations and badges

Moore’s decorations and medals include:[25]

Parachutist Badge
Afghanistan Campaign Medal
National Defense Service Medal
Armed Forces Reserve Medal with “M” devices
Army Service Ribbon

Electoral history

Maryland gubernatorial Democratic primary, 2022[347]
PartyCandidateVotes%
Democratic

217,524 32.4
Democratic
202,17530.1
Democratic
141,58621.1
Democratic
26,5944.0
Democratic
25,4813.8
Democratic
24,8823.7
Democratic
  • Ashwani Jain
  • LaTrece Hawkins Lytes
13,7842.1
Democratic
  • Jon Baron
  • Natalie Williams
11,8801.8
Democratic
4,2760.6
Democratic
  • Ralph Jaffe
  • Mark Greben
2,9780.4
Maryland gubernatorial election, 2022[348]
PartyCandidateVotes%±%
Democratic
  • Wes Moore
  • Aruna Miller

1,293,944 64.53 +21.02
Republican
644,00032.12-24.23
Libertarian
  • David Lashar
  • Christiana Logansmith
30,1011.50+0.93
Working Class
  • David Harding
  • Cathy White
17,1540.86N/A
Green
  • Nancy Wallace
  • Patrick Elder
14,5800.73+0.25
Write-in5,4440.27%+0.19
Total votes2,005,259 100.0
Democratic gain from Republican

Bibliography

  • The other Wes Moore : one name, two fates, New York : Spiegel & Grau, 2010. ISBN 9780385528191
  • Discovering Wes Moore : My Story, New York : Ember (Random House), 2013.ISBN 9780385741682, 9780385741675, 9780375986703
  • The work : searching for a life that matters, New York : Spiegel & Grau, 2015.ISBN 9780812983845
  • Wes Moore; Shawn Goodman, This way home, New York : Delacorte Press, 2015.ISBN 9780385741699
  • Wes Moore; Erica L Green, Five days : the fiery reckoning of an American city, New York : One World, 2020.ISBN 9780525512363

See also

References

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