Washington

Maryland voters elect Democrat Wes Moore as first Black governor

Democrat Wes Moore scored an early win for his party Tuesday, easily taking back the Maryland governor’s mansion and making history as the state’s first Black governor.

“Maryland, you showed that if we stand divided, we cannot win — but if we stand united, we cannot lose,” Mr. Moore said in a statement. “Tonight we celebrate, and tomorrow we get to work.”

The return of a Democratic governor in the deep-blue state was widely anticipated after an eight-year aberration of Republican Larry Hogan holding the office.

Prognosticators rated the seat as “safe Democrat.”

Over the state line, D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser cruised to victory, becoming the first mayor elected to a third term since Marion Barry in 1986.

Mr. Moore, an Army combat veteran, bestselling author and first-time political candidate, will be only the third Black governor in U.S. history. Former Virginia Gov. Doug Wilder and former Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick came before. Both of them were Democrats.

Mr. Moore’s running mate, former state Delegate Aruna Miller, will be the first woman of color and first immigrant to win statewide office in Maryland.

The Democrat ran on a liberal agenda of advancing the state’s education system and creating more economic opportunities for minorities, while touting his hope to restore unity and patriotism to voters across the state.

His opponent, Mr. Cox, was endorsed by former President Donald Trump and ran on a conservative agenda. He portrayed Mr. Moore as too far left for the state.

Mr. Hogan was unable to seek a third term because of state term limits.

Ms. Bowser was poised to coast to a third term Tuesday after a campaign focused on her leadership during the COVID-19 pandemic and on her history as one of the faces of the city’s ongoing quest for statehood.

In June, Ms. Bowser, 50, defeated a pair of challengers from the D.C. Council. The Democratic primary race is largely held to be the de facto mayoral race in the overwhelmingly Democratic district.

In the general election, Ms. Bowser faced a trio of challengers, all considered marginal: Republican Stacia Hall, Statehood Green Party nominee Corren Brown and independent candidate Rodney “Red” Grant.

Democratic Reps. Jennifer Wexton of Virginia’s 10th Congressional District and Abigail Spanberger of the 7th Congressional District also retained their seats. Ms. Wexton fended off Republican challenger Hung Cao in a closely watched race, while Ms. Spanberger narrowly defeated Republican Yesli Vega with a campaign focused on public safety and the economy.

Virginia was put in the national spotlight over several “toss-up” races that Republicans sought to flip.

The Republican Party poured millions of dollars into campaigns challenging Rep. Elaine Luria, Ms. Spanberger and Ms. Wexton in purple districts. Attack ads tied them to Mr. Biden’s agenda, inflation and crime.

Several Republican newcomers hoped to mirror the success of Gov. Glenn Youngkin, a Republican who upset former Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe last year.

Voters in the state were split in their support.

“I’m really worried about protecting our rights and protecting our democracy,” said Kannan Srinivasan of Sterling, who voted Democratic.

Greg, a Republican voter who provided only his first name, said he wants more border security. He cast his vote for Republican Hung Cao in Virginia’s 10th Congressional District, which includes Washington’s western suburbs and exurbs.

“America is a great country, and we should have immigration policies that encourage people to obey the laws, do things, so that when you come to America, there’s a certain appreciation and gratitude for it,” he said.

Virginia was seen as a critical test for Republicans on their ability to capture key races and capitalize on their House gains in a state that increasingly supports Democratic candidates.

This article is based in part on wire service reports.

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