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Governor-elect Wes Moore discusses humble beginnings, unifying Maryland with WJZ

Governor-elect Wes Moore discusses humble beginnings, unifying Maryland with WJZ
Governor-elect Wes Moore discusses humble beginnings, unifying Maryland with WJZ 05:43

BALTIMORE -- If you blinked or ran to the fridge just as the polls were closing in Maryland, you would have missed the Associated Press' call that Democrat Wes Moore was the winner in the race for governor. 

By any standard, his victory was huge, but carries with it more than just numbers. United States and Maryland history was also made on election night, as Moore would become the first Black governor of Maryland and only the third in the United States. 

The governor-elect granted his first local television interview to WJZ. In our studio on TV Hill, soon-to-be governor Wes Moore talked with Vic Carter about his Maryland. 

"Governor-elect Wes Moore," Vic said. "How does it sound to you?"

"It sounds pretty good," Moore replied. 

"This was a long campaign," he continued. "A year and a half and we went all around the state all 24 jurisdictions, but you know the thing that I'm really humbled by is not just that we won. It's how we won."

Moore captured 63.29% of the vote, nearly double that of his Republican opponent Dan Cox. The victory stretched from mountain to shore.

"I mean, we won jurisdictions in Western Maryland," he said. "We won jurisdictions on the Eastern Shore. This has been the largest margin of victory in a governor's race and close to 40 years in the State of Maryland.

Moore described the moment his race was called. 

"Eight o'clock hit and I started watching on television, all these other races were being called. And I'm a little nervous because I didn't see our race called yet and then probably 8:01, 8:02, I look over at my campaign manager and he's got the phone to his ear, and I see his finger go up," he said." And everyone kind of pauses and waits and he says 'they just called it,' and the place erupted.

"You hear that you had been elected governor of the state of Maryland," Vic said. "What immediately went through your mind?"

"My grandmother. My grandmother passed away just days before election day. And she was the matriarch of our family," Moore said. "This is a woman who was born in Cuba, immigrated to this country from Jamaica, and was a public school teacher for over 40 years."

"And the fact that just days before she passed away, one of the last things she got a chance to do was vote for her grandson to become the governor of a state that she called home," he said.

Moore was thinking of his past, but he also looked to the future embracing his own children, and spoke directly to other children in Maryland.

"The thing I want you all to remember, and I think the thing I want every child in this state to remember, is you're never in a room that you don't belong in," he said. "Every room you're in, you are there because that room would be incomplete if you weren't there. And I think that was something that I struggled with. I struggled with that when I was younger, this idea that I was now seeing things and going places that people in my family had never done before."

"How do you plan to unify Maryland? We're in a pretty divisive state right now nationwide," he said. "Maryland is no exception, although I think we're doing better than a lot of other states. How do you plan to address and embrace those people who didn't vote for you?"

"I think people are tired of being at each other's throats. Right? People are tired of cutting people off depending on their political party," Moore said. "We're on the campaign trail. And people will say to us, they'd say you know, 'you're going to a lot of areas that there's not a lot of democrats.' And my answer was simple. 'Yeah, but there's a lot of Marylanders.' And I hope to be their governor too."

Now assuming this mantle of leadership for the state of Maryland, and looking at the issues that affect people every single day, Moore says his number one priority is safety.

"Nothing is more important than that," he said. "Because if you really want to focus on economic growth, if a person does not feel safe, they will not stay. And if a person does not feel safe, they will not come. And so that means we've got to ensure that as a state government, we're working in partnership with local jurisdictions, federal partners, community organizations, to ensure that people have a better chance of feeling safe in their own communities, in their own homes and in their own skin."

Moore said he also must work to fill hundreds of vacancies in state government - including 200 in the office of parole and probation - and he must strengthen ties between Baltimore City and the governor's office.

With all this on his plate, the governor-elect says he will remain true to his humble beginnings

"I think about my own journey, where you know, I watched my father die in front of me when I was three years old because he didn't get the health care he needed," Moore said. "I saw how my mother struggled. I saw how I first had handcuffs on my wrist when I was 11 years old, 11."

"But the thing that I always think about as well," he continued, "is that if someone would have said to that 11-year-old kid with handcuffs on his wrist, you know, 'one day you could be the governor,' I would have never believed that."

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