Author and former non-profit leader Wes Moore has won the Democratic primary for governor in Maryland, NBC News’ Decision Desk projects.
With 76% of the expected vote in, Moore was ahead with 35%, with former Labor Secretary and DNC Chairman Tom Perez garnering 28% and state comptroller Peter Franchot getting 21%.
The Army veteran had been leading the primary since Tuesday’s election, but election officials were not able to start counting mail-in ballots until Thursday, delaying the results.
Moore led the crowded primary field in fundraising and ad spending, per the ad tracking firm AdImpact. He had secured some high-profile endorsements, including House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer and Oprah Winfrey, who hosted a fundraiser for Moore and narrated one of his ads.
Moore’s recent ads have highlighted his background as a Rhodes Scholar and an Army veteran. But Moore has faced questions about whether he’s misrepresented his biography, particularly his ties to Baltimore, but maintains that he has “been very clear and transparent.”
Moore will face controversial state Del. Dan Cox in November. Cox was endorsed by President Donald Trump and has echoed Trump’s claims that the 2020 election was stolen.
Maryland is one of Democrats’ best pickup opportunities, given that GOP Gov. Larry Hogan cannot run for re-election due to term limits. Hogan’s preferred successor, former state Commerce Secretary Kelly Schultz, lost to Cox in the primary this week.
The Cook Political Report rates the Maryland governor’s race Solid Democrat.