Mon. Apr 22nd, 2024

Bridge collapse poses the first major challenge for Maryland Gov. Wes Moore, a Democratic rising star

By 37ci3 Mar30,2024


BALTIMORE – after a bridge collapse Maryland Gov. Wes Moore has been in the national spotlight this week leading the response to the disaster, which killed six people in Baltimore and shut down an international airport.

Before launching his 2022 campaign for governor, political newcomer Moore has been recognized as a rising star in the Democratic Party, joining a deep bench of Democratic governors named as potential 2028 presidential candidates.

Moore’s allies say the qualities and experience that led him to run for governor are qualities that could help him emerge from this crisis and gain national prominence.

“I think leaders show who they are in times of crisis. Wes Moore has always been one to run into trouble,” Brian Adam Jones, a longtime adviser to Moore when he led the Robin Hood Foundation, told NBC News, highlighting Moore’s experience as a combat veteran and CEO of one of New York’s largest anti-poverty organizations. .

Jones echoed the sentiments of other Moore allies and Democratic strategists, who argue that Moore is in a unique position to handle the complex crisis, which includes a bridge strike, a critical piece of Baltimore infrastructure, snarling traffic in the region, and a shutdown ferry. international port and killed six construction workers.

Just after 1 a.m. Tuesday, the freighter Dali struck the Francis Scott Key Bridge in Baltimore. At 6 a.m., the governor declared a state of emergency. Since then, Moore has been all over Baltimore, between the site of the fallen bridge, talking to victims families and observed a moment of silence at the Baltimore Orioles’ opening day game on Thursday.

“It will be a long process. This is a very complicated process. But people have to be confident that we’re going to do it and they can bet on it,” Moore said at a press conference Thursday evening.

It’s a big moment for the new governor in a city that often collided with its predecessor GOP Gov. Larry Hogannow he is running for the Senate.

“Gov. Hogan is really someone who almost always speaks incredibly hatefully about Baltimore,” Jones said, adding, “And that, as a Baltimorean, was something that was really important to Gov. Moore when he was running.”

Still, one national Democratic strategist told NBC News, “Nobody ever wants to be a crisis governor. But that’s part of the job.”

The strategist added that Moore is “focused on Maryland right now. His military experience, unique resume and leadership skills set him apart. It will take a really long time [to rebuild] and it won’t happen overnight. As someone with military experience and service, this is central to his leadership in Maryland, bringing people together and staying focused.

First term exam

How Moore deals with this crisis will be a crucial test of her leadership and her role as a rising star in the party, given the skepticism she faced during a tense Democratic primary campaign.

Moore started the race as an unknown name, but has risen with endorsements from figures across the state and abroad, including Oprah Winfrey. He beat out former US Education Secretary John King, former Democratic National Committee Chairman Tom Perez and former Maryland Comptroller Peter Franchot.

Democratic Primary debate for Maryland gubernatorial candidates
2022 Democratic primary debate for governor of Maryland.Baltimore Sun/TNS via Getty Images file

But in the middle of the primary cycle, Moore’s campaign was bogged down by Moore’s claims misrepresented his upbringing In his 2010 memoir The Other Wes Moore. Moore’s campaign filed a complaint with the state board of elections, alleged foul play by a group that released the memo raised questions about his background and whether Moore really grew up in Baltimore.

Jared Leopold, a veteran Democratic strategist and former staff member of the Democratic Governors Association, told NBC News that Moore had proven his political will during that gubernatorial race, and that Moore had “shown his charisma and his leadership and his ability to tackle tough issues.” .”

“I think it’s going well for him so far,” Leopold said. “He does well on the leadership test.”

MSNBC host Michael Steele, a Republican who served as Maryland’s lieutenant governor from 2003 to 2007 and continues to serve as chairman of the Republican National Committee, added that in addition to questions about his ties to Maryland during the campaign, “I think that, having never held elected office, there were a lot of questions about someone coming in and running a $40 billion enterprise and trying to manage all of that.

“But, you know, he seems to be getting under it, and I think a lot of people in Annapolis and around the state are still watching and nodding their heads,” he said.

Representatives of the Moore administration declined to comment for this story, instead pointing to what Moore said Thursday on the road to rebuilding the bridge.

Eyes on 2028

Democratic strategists and Moore allies stress that despite a potentially bright political future, the governor is not using this moment to pursue any political ambitions.

“I know it’s not even on his radar right now because he’s thinking about this crisis,” Jones said.

Steele added, “Right out of the gate, I can tell you that when you’re in this situation, only the most foolish … politician would sit down and think about how they can handle a tragedy like this and burn their reputation for higher office. It’s no more than Governor Moore.” It’s something I don’t take time for.”

A few days before the bridge collapse, Moore held a roundtable with reporters in Washington after speaking at an education conference. He was asked if he was tired of being asked so many questions about his political future, just months away from being governor.

“I’m not, I don’t get tired of it because I don’t think about it,” he said.

Still, in two years, Moore will have the opportunity to run for a second term if he chooses, and past political campaigns have shown that successfully managing conflict can help you in future political endeavors.

Andy Beshear
Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear on March 26 in Frankfort, Ky.Timothy D. Easley / AP

After Kentucky Democratic Gov. Andy Beshir won re-election in one of the most competitive gubernatorial campaigns of 2023, many are calling him “chief comforter” he said, crediting Beshear’s victory in part to guiding his state through the Covid-19 pandemic and a series of devastating natural disasters in his first term.

“I think people, regardless of their politics or whatever, were fundamentally aware of that [Beshear] he really, really cared about them and his values ​​motivated him to help, didn’t he? A Democratic strategist familiar with the gubernatorial race told NBC News.

“We’ve seen everywhere that voters really reward it when they think you’re on their side,” the strategist said.

All eyes are now on Maryland and Moore as he and other local, state and national leaders begin the process of community healing and rebuilding critical infrastructure.

“Don’t bet against Wes Moore. Always,” Jones said, adding, “Look at his work and see what he does. He will speak his word.”



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