Md. Republicans Rap Wes Moore Pitch on GOP Voter Suppression

    Newly-minted Democratic gubernatorial candidate Wes Moore is catching flak from Maryland Republicans who object to a Facebook appeal from the former nonprofit CEO and author that calls out the GOP for voter suppression legislation.

    On Tuesday, Moore put out a social media post designed to capture email addresses, a common practice for political candidates. It said, in full: “I’ll be blunt: I’m asking for your signature before midnight to stop voter suppression.

    “Maryland Republicans just introduced a bill that would make it harder for Black folks to vote.

    “I need 5,000 signatures on my petition to show Republicans that Marylanders — and Americans nationwide — OPPOSE voter suppression. Will you add your name before midnight?”

    Moore was apparently referring to Senate Bill 838, a voter ID bill introduced by Sen. Justin D. Ready (R-Carroll) during the 2021 General Assembly session. The bill was introduced on Feb. 9 and was the subject of a public hearing on March 3. It died in the Education, Health and Environmental Affairs Committee without a vote.

    Several Republicans this week attacked Moore, claiming he was misleading voters by suggesting that the voter ID bill had just been introduced — or that he seemed to think that the legislative session, which adjourned on April 12, was still taking place.

    A Facebook post from Del. Matt Morgan (R-St. Mary’s) reads: “Newly filed Democrat candidate for Governor of Maryland, Wes Moore, wants you to sign his petition by midnight to stop voter suppression in Maryland caused by the evil Maryland Republicans. The only problem is the MD General Assembly has been out of session since April, and Democrats have had a supermajority in both legislative chambers of MD for the state’s entire history. Mr. Moore’s first act as a newly filed candidate is to tell a bald-faced lie. I am sure he has a bright future ahead of him in Democratic politics.”

    And Douglass V. Mayer, a top adviser to Gov. Lawrence J. Hogan Jr. (R), observed: “There could be worse ways to kick off your campaign, but blatantly misleading Marylanders on incredibly important issues so you can build your campaign email list has to be near the top. Amateur hour, meets desperate, meets cringe. The good news? It can only get better from here.”

    A Moore campaign spokesman dismissed the GOP criticism — and noted that the Republicans did not attempt to disavow the voter ID legislation that stalled in the state Senate.

    “These Republicans are fretting about an adverb and not even disputing the fact that they did try and pass undemocratic voting restrictions less than two months ago, and likely will again,” the spokesman said. “It’s pretty obvious which Democrat they’re worried about.”

    The early Republican attack line on Moore, the former CEO of the Robin Hood Foundation in New York who is making his first bid for office, is vaguely reminiscent of their attempts to paint Benjamin T. Jealous, the 2018  Democratic nominee for governor, as unfamiliar with Maryland.

    They pounced especially quickly when, in a tweet, he warned of Hogan’s future appointments to the Maryland “supreme court,” which technically doesn’t exist. The state’s highest judicial body is the Court of Appeals — though a bill passed this year will allow voters to decide on the 2022 ballot whether to adopt the Supreme Court moniker.

    Moore entered the Democratic gubernatorial primary on Monday. The post about the GOP voter ID bill appears to have disappeared from his Facebook feed.

    Bruce DePuyt contributed to this report.

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    Josh Kurtz
    Founding Editor Josh Kurtz is a veteran chronicler of Maryland politics and government. He began covering the State House in 1995 for The Gazette newspapers, and has been writing about state and local politics ever since. He was an editor at Roll Call, the Capitol Hill newspaper, for eight years, and for eight years was the editor of E&E Daily, which covers energy and environmental policy on Capitol Hill. For 6 1/2 years Kurtz wrote a weekly column on state politics for Center Maryland and has written for several other Maryland publications as well. Kurtz regularly gives speeches and appears on TV and radio shows to discuss Maryland politics.