Maryland Comptroller Peter Franchot said Friday that he will concede in the race for the Democratic gubernatorial nomination.
Franchot, who has been in public office since his election as a state delegate in 1986, sat in third place behind projected winner Wes Moore and former U.S. and Maryland Labor Secretary Tom Perez with about 102,140 votes as of Friday afternoon.
“With voting rights, Roe v. Wade, health care, common-sense gun control, climate change, and economic stability being the key issues of this moment, it is vital that Marylanders come together to elect a Democrat to be the next governor,” Franchot said in a statement congratulating Moore and his running mate, former Del. Aruna Miller.
Del. Darryl Barnes (D-District 25) of Upper Marlboro, who had backed Franchot’s bid, also congratulated Moore for winning the Democratic nomination.
“It is time for the democratic leadership to come together and win the governorship in November,” he wrote in his “Good News Friday” newsletter. “We must continue and ensure that we keep the citizens of Maryland at the forefront of our decisions, as we implement a plan to equal the playing field for African Americans and better the lives of all Marylanders.”
Television networks NBC and CNN project Moore as Maryland’s Democratic nominee. According to the state Board of Elections as of 5:56 p.m. Friday, he garnered 162,376 votes.
However, “we have not yet declared victory, but we are feeling very good,” Moore campaign spokesperson Brian Jones said in a text message.
Moore, an author and military veteran, has a 31,700-vote lead over Perez, who has 130,611.
“Put simply, it’s too early to call this race,” Perez and running mate Shannon Sneed said in a statement. “Yesterday was the first day of counting for the 212,962 recorded and received vote-by-mail ballots and it was a huge day for Tom Perez.”
The Associated Press issued an advisory Friday saying the race is “too early to call.”
The state Board of Elections’ figures show that Franchot received the most mail-in votes with about 28,180, while Perez received 26,906 and Moore got 23,518.
The Perez campaign is now focusing on his home base of Montgomery County, which has about 80,000 votes still uncounted. So far, he’s received more than double the votes that Moore has in Maryland’s largest jurisdiction.
The eventual Democratic nominee will face Del. Dan Cox, who is backed by former President Donald Trump and declared victory on the night of the primary election over former state Commerce Secretary Kelly Schulz.
After the polls closed Tuesday, Schulz didn’t concede when speaking with supporters: “In Maryland, we count every vote.”
As of Friday, Cox currently has 141,235 votes and Schulz with more than 108,000 votes.
Although canvassing of mail-in and provisional ballots by local election boards must be completed by July 29, the process could take longer since many mail-in ballots will be counted as long as they are postmarked no later than Election Day.
An update on ballot totals and general election information could be provided when the state elections board meets on July 28.