Wes Moore on being elected Maryland's first Black governor: 'It is remarkably humbling'

"I'm very excited," said Moore.

November 9, 2022, 7:54 PM

One of the historic firsts announced on election night was Democratic candidate Wes Moore's victory in securing the governor's seat in Maryland.

Moore, a former Rhodes scholar, Army captain and investment banker, will be the state's first Black governor.

ABC News' Linsey Davis spoke with Moore about how he is feeling about his victory, his plans for the state of Maryland and his views on the state of democracy in the U.S.

PRIME: Governor-elect Moore, that has a certain ring to it, doesn't it?

MOORE: It sounds great. It sounds great. And it's wonderful to see you, Linsey. Thank you.

PRIME: How are you feeling?

MOORE: We're feeling wonderful, but also just feeling very humbled. You know, I think the people of this state, they didn't just speak, but they spoke loudly. If you look at how the victory happened, it was, you know, in urban and rural and suburban areas of the state, in Democrat and Independent and Republican areas of the state.

I mean, this was a resounding mandate that the people of Maryland gave. And there was a mandate that we were going to move fast, we were going to be bold, but we were going to build a state that's not leaving anyone behind. And so I'm humbled and I'm very excited.

PHOTO: Democrat Wes Moore, right, stands on stage with his family before speaking to supporters during an election night gathering after he was declared the winner of the Maryland gubernatorial race, on Nov. 8, 2022, in Baltimore.
Democrat Wes Moore, right, stands on stage with his wife, Dawn, second from left, their son, Jamie, left, and their daughter, Mia, before speaking to supporters during an election night gathering after he was declared the winner of the Maryland gubernatorial race, on Nov. 8, 2022, in Baltimore.
Julio Cortez/AP

PRIME: And, of course, we spoke a few weeks ago for our "Race to November" series, where you just kicked me to the curb. You left me behind, contrary to the slogan. But I asked you then if there was a certain weight to being elected the first Black governor of your state, only the third elected Black governor in the country. Now that that's actually your reality. Have you had a chance to process it? I'm sure you haven't even had much sleep.

MOORE: Yeah. We have not had much sleep. But it is remarkably humbling. You know, last night I had a chance to, in my acceptance address, I honored my grandmother who actually passed away last week at the age of 95, who was really the matriarch of my family.

And how one of the last things that she got a chance to do was vote for her grandson to be the governor of a state that she loved. And I got a chance to do that while also standing on stage with my 11 and my 9- year-old kids.

And so thinking about that dynamic and both the history of the state and what that does mean for the first family to look like ours in the state of Maryland, it's definitely not lost on me.

PRIME: And, of course, you're a former Army captain, as you mentioned, you ran on the military slogan of 'Leave No One Behind.' I'm curious now, as you look at the economy and inflation, which was the top issue for so many voters, how do you go about doing that? How do you leave no one behind in a state like Maryland when it comes to economic security, given all the concerns about a potential recession?

MOORE: I think one of the most important things we can do is make sure that everyone has a chance to participate. You know, because if you look at the state of Maryland, you know, we have two available jobs for every single person filing for unemployment. And people say, well, how does that make sense? It makes sense because we actually have a dynamic economy in the state of Maryland.

We're just not training people to participate in it. And so it means having an education system that's teaching our young people how not just to be employees but to be employers. It means focusing on apprenticeship programs and trade programs and getting people in occupations that are currently hiring.

It means being able to make sure that people are being paid a fair wage for the work that they are doing and ending this idea that we should have people who are working jobs, in some cases multiple jobs, and still living at or below the poverty line.

So if we can create a participatory economy, an ownership economy where we're creating pathways for work, wages and wealth, it's the most important thing that we can do to help Maryland families not just prepare for, but also drive through the fact that there can be some difficult economic headwinds coming.

PRIME: Let's talk about crime, which is, of course, a major issue in the city of Baltimore. It's easy to identify the problem, but do you have a specific solution in order to tackle the issue of rising crime?

MOORE: Yes. And the solution is that there's not going to be a single solution. But we need to make sure that the state is a full partner to be able to address the issue of public safety and violence in our society. And being a full partner means things like fixing a parole and probation system that continues to allow violent offenders in our streets and in our neighborhoods.

We have to fix the Department of Parole and Probation and make sure that it's fully staffed and funded so we can get these violent offenders off of our streets. It means working with our federal partners to make sure we're getting these illegal guns out of our neighborhoods.

PHOTO: Democratic gubernatorial nominee Wes Moore addresses supporters after defeating Republican nominee Dan Cox on Nov. 8, 2022, in Baltimore, Maryland.
Democratic gubernatorial nominee Wes Moore addresses supporters after defeating Republican nominee Dan Cox on Nov. 8, 2022, in Baltimore, Maryland. Moore will become Moore will make history as the state's first Black governor.
Rob Carr/Getty Images

It means being able to actually provide resources and support to things like our homicide detectives and people who every single day are trying to solve crimes but find themselves understaffed and undermanned.

And it means being able to utilize state resources to be able to address the root causes of crime that we continue to see in our society. Because while there is a very important role that law enforcement is going to play in this conversation, we are not going to arrest or militarize our way out of this. We have got to figure out ways of dealing with the root causes of crime and public safety and public safety issues and violence that we see in our society and to be able to address it in a holistic way.

PRIME: And lastly, a question about just the overall state of our democracy. We've heard so many times, you know, democracy was on the ballot last night. You defeated an election denier who the incumbent Republican governor had called a QAnon whack job. But many election deniers are still heading to new positions of power or holding on to their seats in Congress despite denying the 2020 results. Do you see that as a real ongoing threat, or could this possibly be just a temporary blip in our politics of the moment in the wake of the Trump presidency?

MOORE: No. I think that this MAGA movement is very much a real ongoing threat. And we need to push back against this. The idea that somehow a political party corners patriotism or owns patriotism is something that we have to push back against. And it was something that we did forcefully in our campaign. And I won't stop.

I will not allow for a group whose definition of patriotism is trying to take down democracy or a group who claims patriotism when their definition of it is storming the Capitol. I will not allow that because I've seen patriotism. I've seen it with my own family.

I've seen it with the people that I served with in Afghanistan when I was a member of the 82nd Airborne Division, when I led soldiers in combat, paratroopers in combat.

That patriotism is something that we must fight for and we must defend. And that is something that I think is going to become crucial, because in order for us to accomplish anything else that we need to accomplish, the basic fabric of democracy has got to be protected and secured and cherished.

PRIME: We want to send a big congratulations to you, Governor-elect Wes Moore. Really appreciate you coming on the time on the show. Thank you so much for your time.

MOORE: It's great to see you as always. Thank you.

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