Views expressed in opinion columns are the author’s own.
November 8 is Election Day and by most accounts and projections, Wes Moore is slated to succeed Larry Hogan and become Maryland’s first Black governor. Above all else, Moore considers himself a convener and moderate who believes “everyone’s voice should be heard.” On its face, this stance is an uncontroversial belief, perfect for someone who wants to project rationality and charisma and facilitate open conversation across the political spectrum.
In practice, however, money speaks much louder than ordinary people in politics — often to an oligarchic extent.
Since money talks in policymaking, it is imperative that candidates like Moore accept money and endorsements not just from anyone that will give it to them, but only those who align with their values, beliefs and policies.
To pursue progress in Maryland, Moore needs to remain uncompromising on his values by avoiding right-wing funding and the policy proposals that could follow suit.
In September, the Moore campaign held a fundraiser at the home of Jasdip “Jesse” Singh, the founder of Sikhs for Trump. This event also included former Trump adviser Sajid Tarar, who founded American Muslims for Trump and serves on the Hogan administration’s commission for South Asian issues. While not widely reported or sourced, it is estimated that the event raised more than $100,000 for Moore and his Lieutenant Governor running mate: Aruna Miller.
Seeing someone such as Miller, who’s of South Asian descent — like myself — step into the political limelight should be inherently positive. However, it is incredibly disheartening to see her accept contributions from someone like Singh. Singh is an opponent of abortion, gay marriage and marijuana legalization. And by the numbers, it seems like his voice in policymaking — whether under a previous Hogan or an upcoming Moore committee — far outweighs ours.
This is not to say that the Moore campaign is at risk of suddenly flipping stances on reproductive freedoms or same-sex marriage, but the entire concept of accepting funds like these casts doubt on the sincerity of reform and policy proposals.
Groups like the Sierra Club, Pro-Choice Maryland and the Sunrise Movement — who initially backed fellow Democrat John King in the primary elections — ought to have a larger voice on policy than groups desperately jumping from the sinking ship that is the Cox campaign.
Moore has stated he will not be an incrementalist leader, but accepting large amounts of conservative funding does not lend credence to that idea. For instance, lobbyist Gerard Evans explained his funding switch from Hogan to Moore by saying, “We represent our clients … and it is clear that Wes Moore is a winner. Based on my 47 years of experience in politics, Cox has zero chance of becoming governor of Maryland.”
Given the current state of the gubernatorial race, special interests or lobbyists all want to donate to Moore to land a seat at the table. That is why it is on the Moore campaign to remain firm — and even deny — funding from sources trying to utilize his campaign as a vessel for turning their money into draconian policy.
From the police union to the teachers’ union, Moore will continue to enjoy widespread support from across the political spectrum until the day he steps into the Governor’s Mansion. The second he attains power, those who supported him financially will be looking for a way into his policymaking conversations. There, he will have to take a stand, and it cannot be a timid one.
If Moore governs under the fear of upsetting anybody in the ideologically broad coalition he has assembled so far, he will lose everyone by not standing for anything at all.
I want to root for Moore, but if he is to be successful and pursue greater things for Marylanders such as free Pre-K, he needs to rid his pockets and conscience of the plague that is conservative lobbying.
Rohin Mishra is a sophomore economics and government major. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.