By Tashi McQueen
AFRO Political Writer

The Maryland Democratic Party Gala was a night of glitz and glam, joy and optimism for the state of the party. Attendees, including Baltimore City and County leaders, state legislators and national representatives, gathered at Martin’s West in Baltimore.

A main staple of the night was Rep. Steny Hoyer (D-Md.-05), who was recognized for his work in politics since 1967, according to the Maryland Manual On-line.

“At the age of 35, you became the youngest president of the Maryland State Senate,” said Lt. Governor Aruna Miller in a testimonial video at the gala. “Congressman Hoyer, you’re also the longest-serving member of the U.S. House of Representatives from Maryland in history as of June 4, 2007. You’re the first Marylander in history to serve as majority leader in the U.S. House of Representatives.”

“You will always be our leader because you have spent your life fighting to ensure every single Marylander has a fair shot. One of the first votes that you cast was to end the ban on interracial marriage,” Miller added. “While in Congress, you helped create jobs, fought to keep our bait clean and secured millions in investments to improve our infrastructure systems.”

Hoyer did not announce his election plans for 2024 during the gala as some had hoped. 

“I’m very honored that they’re recognizing me for some of the work I’ve done through the years,” Hoyer told the AFRO. “I’m a big fan of Yvette Lewis, who’s the chair of our party, and she has done an extraordinary job with our party.”

Hoyer, along with many democrats that night, continued to tout their success with the democratic sweep last year — when Governor Wes Moore, Lt. Governor Aruna Miller, Comptroller Brooke Lierman, and Attorney General Anthony Brown were elected.

“Steny Hoyer is a community champion, a legendary legislative leader, a voice for the voiceless, a defender of democracy,” said Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries (D-NY-08). “Above all else, a mighty Maryland man who has dedicated his life to improving the health, the safety and the economic well-being of the people of this great state. I can tell you that Maryland and America are better off today because of Steny Hoyer’s service in the United States Congress.”

“You will always be our leader because you have spent your life fighting to ensure every single Marylander has a fair shot.”

Hoyer spoke of his support for Jeffries at least two times throughout the night.

Moore capped off the evening with a speech that echoed much of the attendees’ sentiments, but he added a personal encounter of his own with Hoyer. 

[A] Maryland flag was sent to me at a time when we didn’t really receive many care packages,” said Moore about his time in the U.S. Army deployed in Afghanistan. “When you got a care package, that was a big deal. One day I received the care package, and in that care package was a Maryland flag. [It] came from Steny Hoyer.”

Moore described what the moment meant, at just 27 years old.

[I] received an acknowledgment from a congressman simply saying I see you and we stand by you,” he recalled. “I’m forever grateful to this man.”

Tashi McQueen is a Report For America Corps Member.