BETHESDA, Md. (FOX 5 DC) - Maryland gubernatorial candidates Wes Moore and Dan Cox went head-to-head Wednesday in the only televised debate scheduled for the 2022 midterm election. Democratic candidate Moore has refused to accept any other invitations – including one from FOX 5 – to debate his Republican challenger Cox.
Here's some key takeaways from the debate:
Both candidates say they will honor the outcome of the 2022 gubernatorial election
Cox took the first question from the panel about honoring the results of the Maryland gubernatorial election. He answered by saying that he has "always accepted election results that are fair."
"At this point, it would be similar to saying that before a surgery takes place to decide whether or not the surgery went well," Cox said.
Moore pointed to Cox attending the Jan. 6 "Stop the Steal" rally and openly denying the outcome of the 2020 presidential election.
"I will honor the results of the election, and I’m hoping my opponent will do the same. I think public trust in the election system is there," Moore said.
Cox continues to discredit Moore’s upbringing
The Republican candidate called his opponent a "phony," and used the question about why Moore chose to only participate in one debate to point out the "inaccuracies" in his biography.
"There are so many things in this book that are completely false," Cox said.
Moore calls Cox an "extremist election denier"
Phony, extremist, election denier – were a few of the names the candidates called each other during Wednesday evening’s debate. Shortly after Cox called Moore a "phony," Moore fired back by calling his challenger an "extremist election denier whose rhetoric and policies are not only dangerous and divisive but will take our state backwards."
Both candidates seemingly agree on marijuana legalization and decriminalization
Legalizing recreational marijuana is on the ballot this November in Maryland and both candidates were asked to state their stances on the issue. Surprisingly, if there was one topic the candidates found some middle ground on it was the legalization and decriminalization of marijuana.
"We will make sure the rollout is fair and equitable," Moore said. "We can not talk about the benefits of legalization without the consequences of criminalization."
The Baltimore-bred Democratic nominee called the pending legislation "a unique opportunity for the state of Maryland to get this right" and a "core priority" for his administration.
"I do support making sure those who are criminalized for small possession are no longer criminalized," Cox said. He also mentioned that as a member of Maryland’s General Assembly, he was part of a committee that worked to decriminalize "a few plants."
Cox and Moore have vastly different stances on abortion
Cox is pro-life. His website states that he opposed a bill in the Maryland House that would allow Maryland to become a sanctuary state and he also voted against a bill earlier this year that would expand abortion care access.
"We have one of the most liberal abortion laws in the country, and I think that, as governor, there's very little that I can do to override that or change it. So, the idea that's come from my opponent that I'm somehow dangerous to women's health care is false, it's absolutely not true," Cox said.
Moore, on the other hand, said that he believes "abortion is healthcare."
"I want women to make their decision with their doctors. I want Maryland to be a safe haven for abortion rights and I backed that last fall for a constitutional amendment," he said.
Moore also pointed out that his opponent praised former President Donald Trump and the Supreme Court on the day Roe vs. Wade was overturned.