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Author, former nonprofit leader Wes Moore launches bid for Maryland governor

Wes Moore is seeking the Democratic nomination for Maryland governor in 2022. (Sarah L. Voisin/The Washington Post)

An earlier version of this article said Moore is the fifth candidate who has declared in the Democratic primary for governor of Maryland. He is the sixth. This article has been corrected.

Wes Moore, an author, veteran and former head of a national anti-poverty organization, on Monday launched his campaign to become the next governor of Maryland, joining a growing field of candidates seeking the 2022 Democratic nomination.

Moore, 42, released a video talking about his upbringing, the trajectory of his life and his plan for closing Maryland’s wealth gap and creating opportunities for economic stability.

“I’ve seen this firsthand from my life and from my work, that opportunity is just readily available to some and just dangerously absent to others,” Moore said in an interview. “Coming out of this pandemic, we’ve got to focus on creating economic opportunities. . . . We are one of the wealthiest states in the country, and yet one of the most inequitable.”

Moore, a political newcomer who lives in Baltimore and is well known among the state’s power brokers from his work fighting poverty, is the sixth Democrat to jump into the race. He said he wants to use his experience as a combat veteran and chief executive at the Robin Hood Foundation to repair what he described as broken systems that have resulted in gaps in education, health care and housing.

“I believe our state is ready to be bold, it’s ready to be creative, it’s ready to be aggressive to be able to attack these inequalities,” he said. “We’ve got to focus squarely on wages, work and wealth.”

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A Maryland native, Moore moved to New York to live with his grandparents as a young child after his father died of acute epiglottitis, an inflammation of tissue at the base of the tongue that can be caused by bacterial or viral infections. He returned to Baltimore when he was a teenager and has lived in the city since.

“A treatable virus upended my entire family’s life,” Moore said. “And I know how, for many families in Maryland right now, that’s their story.”

Moore attended military school and received an associate’s degree from Valley Forge Military College as well as a bachelor’s degree from Johns Hopkins University. He later became a Rhodes scholar.

He served as a captain and paratrooper in the U.S. Army and led soldiers in combat in
Afghanistan. He also served as a White House fellow, advising on issues of national security and international relations. He founded and led BridgeEdU, a nonprofit that helps
disadvantaged students get into college.

Moore is the author of “The Other Wes Moore” and “Five Days,” a story about the tumultuous period in Baltimore following Freddie Gray’s death in police custody in 2015.

Moore joined the New York-based Robin Hood Foundation in 2016 and served as its chief executive officer for four years. He stepped down earlier this year as he considered a run for governor.

He and his wife, Dawn, have two children.

The other Democrats who have officially launched gubernatorial campaigns are Comptroller Peter Franchot, former U.S. education secretary John B. King Jr., former Montgomery County Council candidate Ashwani Jain, Baltimore-based business owner and economist Mike Rosenbaum and former attorney general Douglas F. Gansler.

Kelly Schulz, who serves as commerce secretary in Gov. Larry Hogan’s administration, and Robin Ficker, a perennial candidate, are vying for the Republican nomination.

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