Wes Moore won in Maryland and will be the third African-American governor in the history of the United States

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He defeated Dan Cox, a hardline Republican backed by Donald Trump

Wes Moore won Maryland and will be the third African-American governor in US history

Wes Moore will succeed a Republican governor in Maryland

The Democrat Wes Moore was elected Maryland's first African-American governor Tuesday, defeating Republican Dan Cox in a state where Democrats outnumber Republicans 2-1.

Moore's victory changes the governor's office from Republican to Democrat. Of this year's 36 gubernatorial races, Maryland and Massachusetts represented the best chances for Democrats to win back a governorship at a time when the GOP has a 28-22 lead in governorships. Republican Governor Larry Hogan is term-limited.

Only two other African-American politicians have been elected governor in the United States: Douglas Wilder of Virginia in 1989 , and Deval Patrick of Massachusetts in 2006. Democrat Stacey Abrams would become the country's first black female governor if she wins a rematch in Georgia against Republican Governor Brian Kemp.

Under the slogan “leave no one behind,” the former combat veteran and former executive director of one of the nation's largest anti-poverty organizations campaigned to create equal opportunity for residents of Maryland.

“This may be Maryland's moment,” Moore said in a debate last month. “We have incredible people and incredible potential, but not everyone is in a position to succeed.”

Moore, 44, defeated a first-term state legislator who was endorsed by former President Donald Trump, who received just 32% of the vote in Maryland in the 2020 presidential election.

During his only debate, Moore criticized Cox for attending the “Stop the Steal” rally on January 6, 2021, before Trump supporters stormed the US Capitol. Moore described Cox as “an election-denying extremist whose rhetoric and policies are not only dangerous and divisive, but will take our state backwards.”

Kevin Holmboe, who voted by Moore in Annapolis, Maryland, cited the candidate's resume as a former combat veteran who served in Afghanistan, as well as a Rhodes scholarship with business training, as qualifications that caught his eye.

“He just had everything to take me in that direction,” Holmboe, 60, said after voting for Moore.

The race was marred by Hogan's refusal to endorse Cox , whom he has described as “a QAnon wacko” unfit for office.

GOP voters who backed Cox said Trump's endorsement of the candidate was meaningful to them.

“Frankly, he's a MAGA Republican,” said John Jacobs, 57, who voted for Cox in Annapolis, in a reference to Trump's “Make America Great Again” slogan.

While explaining his vote for Cox, Jacobs quickly moved on to criticize Hogan, who is weighing a presidential bid — potentially against Trump. “And Larry Hogan, if my life depended on it, I probably wouldn't vote for him, and I'm a Republican, for president.”

Cox arranged bus rides for protesters to Washington for the “Stop the Steal” rally that preceded the January 6 insurrection at the US Capitol. Cox has also said that Biden's victory should not have been certified and he tweeted that former Vice President Mike Pence was a “traitor.” Cox later deleted the tweet and apologized.

Other candidates running for governor included David Lashar of the Libertarian Party; Nancy Wallace of the Green Party; and David Harding of the Working Class Party.

For his part, Rep. Anthony Brown also hopes to make history by becoming the state's first black attorney general. Brown, a three-term congressman representing a majority black district in the suburbs of the nation's capital, was lieutenant governor for eight years. He lost the 2014 gubernatorial election to Hogan before winning his House seat.

Brown is running against Republican Michael Peroutka, a former Anne County Council member Arundel.

A Republican has not been elected attorney general in Maryland since 1919. Edward D.E. Rollins was the last Republican to hold the office, having been appointed in 1952.

In another open state race, Democrat Brooke Lierman is running against Republican Barry Glassman for comptroller, who is the state tax collector. The comptroller occupies one of three positions on the powerful state Board of Public Works, along with the governor and state treasurer.