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Democrat Wes Moore was elected governor in a historic Maryland race

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

Maryland voters returned their governor's mansion to Democrats last night. Wes Moore won the office over Republican Dan Cox. And Governor-elect Moore is on the line. Governor, welcome.

WES MOORE: Good morning. Good morning, Steve. Thank you.

INSKEEP: And congratulations to you. You're hired. Now you have to do the job.

MOORE: (Laughter).

INSKEEP: What have voters told you that they want, do you think?

MOORE: I think voters have told me in a pretty resounding fashion that they are ready for us to move fast. They're ready for Maryland to be bold, but they're ready for Maryland to move together. I think people are tired of being at each other's throats. I think people are tired of the days of caring more about who came up with the idea than is it a good idea. Marylanders are ready to come together, and that's exactly the kind of leadership that I'm ready to provide.

INSKEEP: Well, let's talk about that because you have a blue state, where Democrats outnumber Republicans. But for recent years, you've had a Republican governor, Larry Hogan, who was very, very popular - could not run again because of term limits. Is there something specific that Governor Hogan did that you would expect - although you're in the different party - you would expect to continue?

MOORE: Well, I think - I applaud Governor Hogan because he was early and very full-throated on the danger of this MAGA movement - on this idea of election denying and the people who are - who, frankly, are just - you know, just core threats to the basics of democracy. He was early about that. He was full-throated about it, and I appreciate that. And I think that, when you look at how we campaigned - well, we campaigned across the entire state, in traditionally Republican areas, Democratic areas, independent areas. It didn't matter to us because, you know, as I told people on the campaign trail - you know? - you know what question I never once asked my soldiers when I was leading soldiers in combat in Afghanistan? I never asked them once their political party. And I think that that resonated with Marylanders because I think Marylanders are ready for an idea that we can actually unify around issues and not around partisan identification.

INSKEEP: Are you saying to Republican voters - people who voted for your opponent - that you intend to win them over in the next four years?

MOORE: One hundred percent. The message is, I plan on being your governor, too. And as we were going around the different parts of the state, the things that we kept on hearing from people - about that we want to focus on making sure we have 21st-century education and 21st-century schools - that we can actually get the issue of public safety and prioritize it, making sure we have a police force that move with appropriate intensity and absolute integrity and full accountability. You know, the fact that they want our economy to go and that our state should be more competitive, but also more equitable, and that's not a choice. We can do both. You know, these are all things that we were campaigning on, and I think that's something that resonated with Republicans around the state as well.

INSKEEP: Governor-elect, I want to note the historic nature of your election. Maryland, as some people will know, was, in the 1800s, a slave state. It is the state where Frederick Douglass grew up and escaped from. I believe it's the state of Harriet Tubman as well.

MOORE: That's right.

INSKEEP: And now you have been elected the first Black governor of Maryland. What does that mean to you?

MOORE: It's humbling. It's humbling because, you know, Maryland does have a very complicated, you know, history with the issue of race. But I think that, while it is humbling that - you know, that I am the first Black governor in the history of the state of Maryland, I also know that that's not the reason that I ran. You know, I did not run to make history. We ran because we have real core issues that we want to address. Like, we want to make child poverty history. We want to make the wealth gap history. We want to make economic and educational disparity history. And so it's very humbling for me - the historic nature of the campaign - and I know the shoulders that I stand on. But I think the assignment is that we have to go out there and right now and just go do the job and do the work.

INSKEEP: There has been so much debate in this country about how to teach, in schools, the subject of slavery - the subject of racism in the United States. To the extent that you can influence that in Maryland, what do you want to be taught in Maryland schools?

MOORE: Yeah. I mean, the - you know, and there's levels of restrictions that you're going to have because a lot of this is going to be local issues. And I know, even in the state of Maryland, things like CRT - despite - you know, you watched, you know, political forces try and introduce - as trying to stop that, even though it's not even being taught in the state of Maryland. It is important that our children do understand our history. You know, loving your country does not mean lying about its history. And it's important that all of our children do have a sense of understanding about the nature and the history, but also just the beautiful evolution of our country. We have a country we're proud of, and I think it's important for all children to understand all aspects of it.

INSKEEP: Wes Moore is governor-elect of Maryland. Governor-elect Moore, congratulations once again, and thanks for taking the time.

MOORE: It's my pleasure. Thank you so much.

INSKEEP: Hope you get some sleep.

MOORE: You too, bye-bye. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.