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Election 2022 Government & Politics

Perez, Moore Debate Policy Positions on Baltimore Radio Waves

The Maryland State House as seen from Main Street in Annapolis. Photo by Danielle E. Gaines.

Former non-profit CEO Wes Moore and former U.S. Labor Secretary Tom Perez offered Maryland voters insight into their backgrounds and policy positions, along with their approach to governing, during a wide-ranging joint appearance on a Baltimore radio station on Friday.

The two Democrats were invited to take part in the hour-long discussion by Tom Hall, host of Midday on WYPR-FM, a public radio station. Comptroller Peter Franchot was also invited but did not attend.

With early voting set to start next week, Hall hoped to showcase the three candidates who have consistently outpolled the other Democrats running in the July 19 gubernatorial primary. The Franchot campaign declined to attend, it said, because of the program’s decision to exclude lower-polling candidates.

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Later on Friday, Franchot announced on Twitter that he’d tested positive for COVID-19 in the evening and would be quarantining and campaigning from home until he can return to the campaign trail. Vaccinated, Franchot tweeted that his symptoms were mild.

During the afternoon radio show, Perez and Moore stuck mostly to the issues — offering comments on transportation, public safety, firearms, the gas tax, reproductive rights, and Baltimore City’s relationship with state leaders.

Perez also needled the absent Franchot multiple times, chiding him for his absence from the discussion and for not speaking up more forcefully when Gov. Lawrence J. Hogan Jr. (R) killed the Red Line, a planned Baltimore east-west transit line that had secured federal funding.

“Peter Franchot’s silence was deafening when Larry Hogan cut the cord on the Red Line,” Perez said. “He could have said something. … It’s not hard to figure out why he has a scheduling conflict until July 19, I guess.” (At an endorsement event in Baltimore County on Friday, Perez took another swipe at Franchot: “He has an ignorance is bliss philosophy of campaigning. ‘Maybe people won’t discuss my record.’”)

Both Moore and Perez supported a temporary rollback in the state’s gas tax, and both said state lawmakers should return to Annapolis this summer to make it happen.

Perez said state lawmakers should “immediately” come back to Annapolis to address both fuel costs and the impacts of inflation. “I would make sure that we are expanding the Earned Income Tax Credit,” he said. “I would make sure that we expand SNAP eligibility, what we used to call food stamps.”

A former state labor secretary and DNC chair, Perez also said lawmakers should vote to include abortion access in the Maryland constitution.

Moore chided Franchot for not reaching out personally to the legislature’s presiding officers to discuss possible steps the state might take. “There has not been a single call…,” Moore said. “The comptroller and I, we just view this differently, where the time gets spent has actually been finger-pointing.”

Both men said Baltimore needs a governor who will partner with city leaders in a collaborative manner.

Asked by a listener to offer concrete suggestions for getting guns out of the hands of criminals, both men gave lengthy, nuanced answers that focused on the causes of crime, the need to fund community-based organizations, and police reform.

Moore said communities need to respond to calls for service with addiction and behavioral resources, not just police, “because there are certain people that are better equipped to deal with certain 911 calls than we see when everything has to be something with law enforcement.”

Perez called for a greater role for the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms. “We’ve got to get guns off these streets and we need to have a conspicuous presence.”

Neither Moore nor Perez supported Hogan’s plan to add toll lanes to I-270 and the Capital Beltway as currently formulated.

Although the two men avoided criticizing one another, Perez — in perhaps a veiled swipe at Moore — urged voters to focus on “not just what [candidates] have said, but what they have done.” Moore has been widely praised for his inspirational speaking style.

Perez appeared to dominate the conversation, speaking at great length on multiple occasions. Moore went long stretches without talking, and when he did jump in, he tended to speak more in generalities, framing questions and discussing his experiences as the leader of a poverty-fighting non-profit.

The conversation is available on the station’s website,

Danielle E. Gaines and Josh Kurtz contributed to this report. 


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Perez, Moore Debate Policy Positions on Baltimore Radio Waves