Under a light spring rain, Maryland Gov. Wes Moore listened as Baltimore Mayor Brandon Scott took him through the city’s Four By Four neighborhood on Tuesday afternoon.

They greeted residents, posed for selfies and shook their heads at abandoned homes. The pair was surrounded by a phalanx of police and fire officials, city and state agency representatives, and community leaders. And the politicians were also trailed by a pack of journalists, training their cameras and recorders on the pair for stories that would blanket the airwaves and websites.

It’s the kind of publicity that could boost Scott in the final days of a tight campaign in his effort to get reelected.

But while Moore repeatedly called Scott a “partner” in the work of governing and helping Baltimore, the governor has stopped short of endorsing the mayor’s reelection bid and told reporters his ballot is secret.

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Still, the governor — tellingly — has made no such appearances with Scott’s chief rival, Sheila Dixon.

“The only race that I plan on endorsing in the primary is going to be in statewide races,” Moore told reporters ahead of the community walk. “But I can tell you, I deeply appreciate the partnership that the mayor continues to provide.”

When Scott was asked whether he was OK without Moore’s endorsement, he said: “I know the governor is my partner. You heard that from him directly. We’re going to continue to work each and every day because public safety, as I always say, is not about politics.”

Though the governor told reporters he was only endorsing statewide, he did endorse Baltimore City Councilman Eric Costello, who is running for re-election. Costello has been running ads touting the endorsement.

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“Eric was one of the first people to support the governor, knocked 23,000 doors for the governor and he was proud to endorse him in early February, making an exception to his rule of not endorsing outside of the statewide races,” Moore campaign spokesman Connor Lounsbury said in a statement.

Maryland Gov. Wes Moore cast his ballot on Monday and says it’s secret. He’s not endorsing in the Baltimore mayoral race, which features Mayor Brandon M. Scott as the incumbent. (Kylie Cooper/The Baltimore Banner)

The positive public camaraderie has become a hallmark of this year’s Democratic primary, as elected officials pledged support, showcased their attendance at political events and heaped praise on their favorites without making official endorsements in statewide and local races.

In Maryland’s U.S. Senate primary, retired Sen. Barbara A. Mikulski was greeted with cheers and applause when she took the microphone at a fundraiser for Senate candidate Angela Alsobrooks in Baltimore recently.

She stood side by side with Alsobrooks, surrounded by politicians who have officially endorsed the Alsobrooks campaign, but never said she was giving her endorsement.

”I’m here tonight to lend my enthusiastic support for Angela Alsobrooks to be the next senator for Maryland,” Mikulski said.

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Mikulski similarly offered “support” — but not an endorsement — for Sheila Dixon, running for Baltimore mayor; state Sen. Sarah Elfreth, running for Congress; and Johnny Olszewski Jr., running for Congress.

“I prefer the term support,” Mikulski clarified when asked about endorsements at the Alsobrooks event.

Retired U.S. Sen. Barbara A. Mikulski, left, announces her support of Angela Alsobrooks in the Democratic primary for the U.S. Senate. Mikulski made the announcement at a fundraiser for Alsobrooks at Guilford Hall Brewery in Baltimore on Tuesday, April 30, 2024.
Retired U.S. Sen. Barbara A. Mikulski, left, says she prefers the term “support” over “endorsement.” She’s backing Angela Alsobrooks for U.S. Senate. (Pamela Wood)

This week during a meeting in Annapolis, U.S. Sen. Ben Cardin made a case to voters that Elfreth would serve Maryland’s 3rd Congressional District well in the U.S. House of Representatives. Without ever endorsing her — and adding disclaimers that he was not — he steered clear of even using the word “support” and used phrases like Elfreth is “ready for the job” and “I’m pleased she’s running.”

“She has all that you would want in someone to represent you in Congress,” the soon-to-retire senior senator said.

St. Mary’s College of Maryland politics professor Todd Eberly said Democrats are likely parsing their words because “they want to come back together as one big happy family after the primary.” This would allow them to cleanly support the Democratic candidate no matter who wins.

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“It’s a non-endorsement endorsement,” Eberly said. “And I don’t know that voters are going to know the difference.”

U.S. Sen. Ben Cardin (D-Md.) and state Sen. Sarah Elfreth (D-Anne Arundel) speak about flood risks to the waterfront area outside of the Annapolis Market House on Monday, May 6, 2024 in Annapolis.
U.S. Sen. Ben Cardin, left, is careful in his choice of words when talking up Congressional candidate Sarah Elfreth, right. (Wesley Lapointe/for the Baltimore Banner)

With Cardin months away from retiring and Mikulski already there, the local-famous politicians would lose little by full-on endorsing candidates, even in the primary, Eberly said.

What’s happening in the Senate primary may be to blame. Eberly noted how the entire Democratic establishment really “rushed to get behind Angela Alsobrooks.” But the other leading candidate, U.S. Rep. David Trone, is well-funded and has his own slate of backers. Trone led in polls for awhile, but it’s not clear who is going to end up on top after the final votes are cast on Tuesday.

”There was an assumption that she was just going to lock this up and that is not the case anymore at all,” he said. “They may be a little trigger shy now.”

Journalists document Gov. Wes Moore, center, and Mayor Brandon Scott, right, taking photos on a community walk. Moore has not made similar appearances with the other leading mayoral candidate, Sheila Dixon. (Kylie Cooper/The Baltimore Banner)

But Eberly found it odd that Moore would withhold an official endorsement from Scott — a scandal-free incumbent Baltimore mayor who has seen a notable decrease in crime during his first term.

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It wouldn’t matter who wins, he said, as governor, Moore holds the power in the relationship with Baltimore’s mayor.

”Is Dixon going to hold that against him?” he asked. “She can’t hold that against him because she needs him.”

This article has been updated to correct incorrect information initially provided by Gov. Wes Moore’s campaign. Moore has endorsed Eric Costello for re-election to the Baltimore City Council.

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