Democrat Wes Moore already had the support of the statewide teachers union in his quest to become Maryland governor, and now he has the backing of the police union as well.
The Maryland State Fraternal Order of Police voted this week to endorse Moore for governor over Republican Dan Cox.
Moore, who reached the rank of captain in the Army Reserves and did a tour of duty in Afghanistan, understands what it’s like to serve in uniform, said Sgt. Clyde Boatwright, a Baltimore schools police officer who is president of the state FOP.
Moore addressed the FOP’s annual conference in Solomons Island and impressed the union’s members, Boatwright said.
“They could see the vision of what his campaign is trying to do moving forward,” Boatwright said. “He was very impressive.”
Boatwright said that the FOP’s discussion with Moore was not “transactional.”
“He wanted a partnership and so did we,” Boatwright said. “He didn’t ask us for anything.”
Moore’s public safety platform includes hiring more parole and probation officers, connecting offenders with services, supporting violence intervention programs, funding community policing programs and improving diversity among police officers.
Moore said the endorsement shows that his campaign has a broad base of support.
“In order for our state to move forward, we need to have all voices at the table. I don’t think there’s a greater responsibility for any chief executive than ensuring public safety,” Moore said in a phone interview from Ocean City, where he’s attending the Maryland Association of Counties annual conference.
Some activists and members of the Democratic Party’s progressive wing have called for cutting police funding, but Moore said those individuals shouldn’t be put off by his FOP endorsement. He emphasized that his public safety plan emphasizes transparency and accountability for police officers.
“We can build a coalition that includes both the FOP and activists and people working in our communities,” Moore said.
Cox, meanwhile, has said there needs to be a crackdown on crime, which is “out of control.”
“We don’t have the support of the police that we should have,” Cox said on Monday as he opened a campaign office in Annapolis. “And my opponent wants to do more of the same. … We need to make sure that we back the blue and protect them in their jobs.”
Moore and Cox had filled out questionnaires and were invited to give a speech and take questions from FOP members on the first day of the conference.
Cox was scheduled to attend, but then cited a scheduling conflict and sent a letter instead. Moore also had a scheduling conflict and was moved to the second day of the conference, Boatwright said, a logistical change that had been made for other candidates in the past.
“I think they found it important that I showed up,” Moore said. “Actually taking the time to speak to people and listen to people and share ideas, I think that was an important criteria.”
The FOP counts more than 21,000 members from law enforcement agencies across the state. Each agency sends delegates to the convention who vote on the endorsements. A threshold of 60% is required for a candidate to win an endorsement, although Boatwright said he could not provide vote totals for this year’s candidates.
The state FOP also endorsed Republican Barry Glassman for comptroller over Democrat Brooke Lierman, and Democrat Anthony Brown for attorney general over Republican Michael Peroutka.
The FOP has had working relationships with Glassman and Brown through their long careers in Maryland politics, Boatwright said.
Glassman is currently Harford County executive after serving in the General Assembly, while Brown was a state delegate and lieutenant governor before reaching his current position in Congress. The FOP endorsed Brown’s unsuccessful campaign for governor in 2014.