There have been several noteworthy developments in the Democratic primary for governor over the past day, including former Anne Arundel County Executive Laura Neuman dropping out of the contest and endorsing one of her foes, while former U.S. Education Secretary John B. King Jr. became the latest candidate to hit the airwaves — and another shoe dropped on author Wes Moore’s origin story.
The latter development could prove to be particularly pivotal.
In an unusual move, Moore last week released contents of an opposition research dossier that had been compiled about him that, among other things, called into question his claims about growing up in Baltimore. While doing so, he asked the state prosecutor’s office and the Maryland State Board of Elections to investigate the distribution of the dossier.
It appeared as if the Moore campaign was trying to get ahead of a story, and now that’s been confirmed: CNN released an investigation Wednesday night into some of Moore’s claims about where he grew up; it suggested his connections to Baltimore had at times been exaggerated, and that during high-profile interviews and public appearances he had stayed silent when others had asserted that he was Baltimore born and bred.
Moore’s best-selling autobiography, “The Other Wes Moore,” chronicled his life and education and the life of another man of roughly the same age, also named Wes Moore, who had grown up in Baltimore and wound up incarcerated. His origin story has been a major part of his professional, and now political persona since he became a public figure.
It’s too early to measure the political impact of the CNN story and potential fallout, but the investigation is likely to overshadow other developments in the primary for at least the short term — including Moore’s endorsement from another labor union Wednesday, Ironworkers Local #5, a chapter of the International Association of Ironworkers covering Maryland, Virginia, and part of West Virginia.
Neuman dropping out, backing Franchot
In other gubernatorial news, Neuman plans to withdraw from the race on Thursday morning and endorse Comptroller Peter V.R. Franchot (D) in the nine-candidate primary.
“I entered the gubernatorial race because I believe that every Marylander deserves access to opportunities to thrive, regardless of where their story starts,” Neuman said in a statement provided by the Franchot campaign. “I am proud to endorse Peter Franchot for governor, and Monique Anderson-Walker for lieutenant governor, because I know they share my commitment to delivering positive, lasting changes that improve the quality of life for all Marylanders. During my career as an entrepreneur and public servant, I developed a clear understanding of how leadership can turn ideas into outcomes. I know that Peter and Monique will bring the executive experience needed to lead Maryland into a more equitable and prosperous chapter.”
Neuman, who served as Anne Arundel County executive in 2013 and 2014, when she was a Republican, was a late entrant in the Democratic primary for governor but hoped to capitalize on her status as the only woman in the race and as a candidate with a compelling, from-the-bootstraps biography. She has been a tech entrepreneur and was economic development director in Howard County.
But her campaign never caught fire — in part because of her late start, and in part because she wasn’t well known among Democratic activists, donors and affiliated groups. And while she has largely endorsed Democratic candidates over the past few years, her previous Republican affiliation made her suspect in certain Democratic circles.
Franchot in a statement said he was looking forward to campaigning with Neuman by his side.
“She has run an ideas-driven campaign that encouraged her fellow candidates to bring their best,” he said. “I have always admired the strength and vision that allowed her to overcome incredible adversity to become a thriving entrepreneur, a leading public servant, a champion for working families, and an advocate for women’s justice. She has led with integrity, and her career in public service has delivered results for her constituents.”
King on the airwaves
In one ad, King says his public school education “saved my life” after both of his parents died by the time he was 12 years old. He credited his teachers for his success in becoming a teacher, a principal and eventually Education secretary during President Obama’s administration.
In the other ad, King highlights his ancestry, standing in front of a cabin in Gaithersburg where his family was enslaved three generations ago, only 25 miles from where he lives now in Silver Spring.
“In Maryland, success isn’t guaranteed, but opportunity should be,” King said. “I’m running for governor because every family deserves the same, regardless of who you are or where you come from.”
Both ads began airing across the state Wednesday on both broadcast and cable. The King campaign says it has made a “six-figure” buy to air the ads.
Franchot, Moore and former U.S. Labor Tom Perez have also begun airing TV ads in recent weeks.
Del. Ned Carey won’t seek re-election
In an open letter to constituents, Del. Ned Carey, a Democrat from northern Anne Arundel County, announced Wednesday that he won’t seek re-election in 2022.
“Serving my friends and neighbors in Northern Anne Arundel County in the Maryland General Assembly has been the highlight of my professional career and it is an honor that I will never forget. While I have great confidence that my campaign would have again been successful, I have always believed that no one belongs in elected office indefinitely,” he wrote. “You know when it’s time to move on, and this is my time.”
Under redistricting, he would move to District 12B, a single member legislative district in Anne Arundel County, with the larger Senate district based in Howard County.
Carey, a member of the Economic Matters Committee, said “numerous factors” weighed into his decision, including spending more time with his family.
“While we are a part-time legislature, serving as a Maryland State Delegate is a full-time job and elected office requires time away from your loved ones that I’m no longer willing to sacrifice,” he wrote in the letter.
Carey is also chief of airport technology for the Maryland Aviation Administration.
“I am hopeful that whomever represents us next will understand that they must always advocate for our community first before their own political interests or the political party that they represent,” Carey wrote in his letter. “For good or bad, that has always been my guidepost.”
He pledged to continue political work until his term ends in January and said he has no plans to move from his Brooklyn Park neighborhood.
Montgomery Co. candidate discloses ‘hostile workplace environment’ in own campaign
Speaking of unusual developments in political races, Brandy Brooks (D), a leading candidate for a County Council at-large seat in Montgomery County, announced Wednesday that she was suspending her campaign for at least two weeks after being accused by a campaign worker of creating a hostile workplace environment.
“Starting today, I am taking a period of two weeks to care for myself and reflect with my trusted advisors about an ongoing issue,” Brooks wrote in an email to supporters.
“One month ago, a member of my staff team approached my campaign manager with a report of a hostile workplace environment caused by me,” she said. “Because we on the campaign take such issues very seriously, my team immediately took measures to pause all contact between the staff member and myself and to enter into formal mediation with the staff member to determine how to address their concerns. While a mediated agreement was developed and the terms of that agreement executed, increasingly inaccurate and malicious reports of my behavior are spreading within our community.
“I believe that accountability must be based in honest fact-finding with the goal of seeking the truth. For decisions about my character and leadership to be made with such prejudice prior to any process is the very opposite of justice, by any definition.”
Brooks went on to emphasize that she is only “taking a momentary break,” not ending her campaign. She was considered one of the frontrunners in the multi-candidate race for four council at-large seats, based in part on her solid support from progressives and her relatively strong showing in the County Council primary four years ago. But this could be a fatal development.
Coincidentally or not, Brooks’ campaign staff unionized earlier this year through the Campaign Workers Guild — a development that the campaign touted at the time.
Danielle E. Gaines and Elizabeth Shwe contributed to this report.