Maryland Democrats turned to one of the party’s biggest stars to rally the faithful in West Baltimore on Saturday: Vice President Kamala Harris.

As hundreds of Democrats filled the Cahill Recreation Center to hear from the vice president, hundreds of Republicans gathered on a hotel lawn in Owings Mills for a “freedom rally” to boost their candidates.

With 10 days until Election Day, both parties are kicking their get-out-the-vote efforts into high gear. Voting by mail and in-person early voting has already started in the state.

The marquee race this year is a gubernatorial matchup between Democrat Wes Moore, who leads in polls and fundraising, and Republican Dan Cox.

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At both rallies, speakers warned of the dangers coming from the other side, and they stressed the importance of voting to preserve their values.

“There’s some scary stuff happening in our country right now,” Harris told the rec center crowd in Baltimore. “There was a time when we appreciated and understood the importance to a democracy of vigorous debate. Where we appreciated the diversity of opinions that lead us to progress through smart decisions.”

Wes Moore stands behind a lectern speaking, his left arm extending and pointing a finger for emphasis.
Maryland Democratic governor candidates speaks at a campaign rally featuring Kamala Harris in Baltimore. (Kaitlin Newman / The Baltimore Banner)

Harris warned that “so-called leaders” have been using their positions to preserve personal power and to divide the country.

“And so this is one of those moments that requires all good people to make our voices louder as a true reflection of who we are as nation to say that we will not stand for that,” she said.

Harris is just the latest high-profile Democrat to stump for Moore, a candidate they’re optimistic about as the party worries about a red wave at the ballot box this fall.

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President Joe Biden has visited Maryland multiple times this season and plans to return the day before Election Day. Former President Barack Obama cut TV and radio ads for Moore, and 2016 presidential nominee Hillary Rodham Clinton headlined a Zoom fundraiser for Moore.

The rec center crowd grew exuberant as Moore walked out to one of his campaign’s usual songs, the funky “Ain’t No Stopping Us Now” by McFadden & Whitehead.

In his speech, Moore repeated his campaign slogan, “Leave No One Behind,” which is inspired by his military service.

“That is not just a mantra — it became a value statement,” Moore said. “And come January, that will become the new mission of the state of Maryland: We will be a state that leaves no one behind.”

He continued: “This will be a state where every child can grow up in a neighborhood they feel safe in. And no children should grow up in a neighborhood they are afraid of, and our mission will not be accomplished until that is the case.”

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Dan Cox, the Republican nominee for Maryland governor, speaks during The Freedom Rally in Owings Mills, Saturday, October 29, 2022.
Dan Cox, the Republican nominee for Maryland governor, speaks during The Freedom Rally in Owings Mills, Saturday, October 29, 2022. (Jessica Gallagher/The Baltimore Banner)

Meanwhile in Owings Mills, speakers at the conservative rally described a dark view of Baltimore and Maryland as being beset by crime, drug abuse and officials trying to strip away individual freedoms.

They suggested that the vice president and Biden are spending time in the state because they’re scared that Cox and other Republicans may win. Patriotic songs like Lee Greenwood’s “God Bless the USA” were played in between speeches decrying Democrats as radicals who are focused on pushing their view of the nation on Maryland.

Cox was the big draw at the event, which was put on by the conservative talk radio station WCBM.

Cox cautioned his audience not to listen to talk that the governor’s race is a “done deal” and will be won by Moore.

“It’s not,” Cox said flatly. “Don’t believe it.”

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Cox and other speakers criticized independent polling showing Moore with a double-digit advantage in the campaign.

But Cox did ask the audience to pay attention to one element of a Washington Post/University of Maryland poll that indicated Cox has a stronger showing among voters concerned about the economy.

“That is the way we are going to win on Nov. 8,” Cox said.

Cox offered an array of policy promises: reforming how property tax assessments are conducted, eliminating the “inflationary fuel tax,” restoring funding and support for police and eliminating any mandates for “experimental” vaccines.

Gale Lewis and Lee Lewis of Severna Park hold up Dan Cox signs during The Freedom Rally in Owings Mills, Saturday, October 29, 2022. (Jessica Gallagher/Jessica Gallagher)

He blasted Moore’s past statements about systemic racism and its lingering effects, such as economic inequality. “That is racist speak,” Cox said.

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Cox’s entrance music as he climbed on the stage was Bruce Springsteen’s “Born in the USA,” which has a triumphant-sounding chorus but verses with lyrics about the tribulations of a Vietnam War veteran.

The song played again after Cox’s 20-minute speech, as the crowd rose to their feet and clapped along. Cox pumped his fist and stepped offstage to the sounds of applause.