ANNAPOLIS, Maryland – Dan Cox, a far-right state lawmaker backed by former President Donald Trump, won the Republican primary for Maryland governor on Tuesday, defeating a moderate challenger backed by outgoing Gov. Larry Hogan.
Cox will face the winner of the highly competitive Democratic primary in the November general election. Wes Moore, the Oprah Winfrey-backed best-selling author, had an early lead Tuesday night as focus began to turn to mail-in ballots that won’t be counted until later in the week.
While a victory for Trump, Cox’s victory over former Hogan cabinet member Kelly Schultz could be a blow to Republicans’ chances of retaining the governor’s mansion in November. Hogan, who was barred from seeking a third straight term, was a rare two-term Republican governor in a heavily Democratic state, and he had endorsed Schultz as the successor to his bipartisan leadership style.
Cox has been a thorn in Hogan’s side for the past few years, litigating the governor’s stay-at-home orders and regulations in the early days of the pandemic and unsuccessfully trying to impeach him over COVID-19 orders that Cox called “restrictive and prolonged .”
Cox alluded to his fight with Hogan in his victory speech Tuesday night, telling the cheering crowd, “We will never again surrender our bodies, our churches and our businesses to a closed state.”
The Republican primary has been seen as a proxy battle between Trump and Hogan, who have offered very different visions of the party’s future as they consider 2024 campaigns for the White House. Hogan, one of Trump’s most prominent GOP critics, has called on the party to abandon his divisive policies as Trump has spent much of his post-presidential tenure fielding candidates who promote his lies about a stolen 2020 election.
One of those candidates was Cox, who organized busloads of protesters to Washington for the “Stop Theft” rally that preceded the January 6 riot at the US Capitol. Cox also said President Joe Biden’s victory should not have been certified and tweeted that former Vice President Mike Pence was a “traitor.” Cox later deleted the tweet and apologized.
Democrats were likely giddy over Cox’s victory in the Republican primary. The Democratic Governors Association spent more than $1 million on advertising designed to support Cox, seeing him as an easier opponent in November.
Trump was also jubilant, saying in a statement shortly before the race convened: “Larry Hogan’s RINO endorsement doesn’t seem to be working out so well for his heavily favored candidate. Next, I’d like to see Larry run for president!”
It could potentially take days or even longer to determine the winners of the most contested races, including the Democratic primary for governor. Maryland law prohibits counties from opening mail-in ballots until the Thursday after Election Day.
In one of the evening’s earliest races, Democratic Sen. Chris Van Hollen fended off a primary challenge just months after suffering a mild stroke. He is favored to win a second term in November.
Baltimore State’s Attorney Marilyn Mosby, who is awaiting trial on federal criminal charges, has trailed in early results in her three-way Democratic primary as she seeks a third term.
Mosby is charged with perjury and making false statements on loan applications to purchase properties in Florida. She gained national notoriety in 2015 when she brought criminal charges against six police officers in the death of Freddie Gray, a black man who suffered a spinal injury after police handcuffed, shackled and placed him head first in a van. None of the employees have been convicted.
In the Democratic primary for governor, top contenders included Moore, the former chief executive of the Robin Hood Foundation, an anti-poverty organization; Tom Perez, former US Secretary of Labor and former chairman of the Democratic Party; and Peter Franchot, state inspector for four terms.
Laura Kretschman, a 41-year-old high school teacher, said she voted for Moore, swayed in part by his endorsement by the state’s teachers union. She said she was impressed by Moore’s accomplishments after rising above childhood challenges and being raised by a single mother.
“I teach kids at a school that also come from difficult backgrounds, so I’d like to see what he can contribute to help those students who are struggling and experiencing challenges,” said Kretchman, an Annapolis resident.
Other voters said they preferred a long resume of civil service. That’s why Curtis Fatig, 67, voted for Peres. “He’s not a newcomer,” Fattig said.
Cox’s victory on Tuesday served as a victory for Trump, who has had a mixed approval record in this year’s midterm elections. But in such a heavily Democratic state, his candidate faces an uphill battle heading into the fall.
Some Republican voters said Trump’s support convinced them to vote for Cox. Others said it didn’t matter.
David Gatto, 63, said he voted for Cox because he believes “Maryland is extremely liberal and we need to get back to some values.” Trump’s support, he said, was not really a factor.
“I think Hogan was more of a RINO than a Republican governor, and I think our state reflects that,” Gatto said.
Cameron Martin, 22, said Trump’s support was “the main reason” he voted for Cox, but added that he felt Cox shared his Republican values and that “he would represent me the best.”
Maryland’s only open congressional seat was in the 4th Congressional District, an overwhelmingly Democratic black district. Former District Attorney Glenn Ivey won the Democratic primary, defeating former Rep. Donna Edwards, who previously held the seat.
4th District incumbent Rep. Anthony Brown has left his seat to run for attorney general. He won the Democratic primary on Tuesday night, defeating Katie Curran O’Malley, the former first lady, former Baltimore judge and daughter of former Attorney General J. Joseph Curran Jr. Brown was Governor Martin O’Malley’s lieutenant governor.
Candidates were on the ballot for all 188 seats in the Democratic-controlled Maryland General Assembly.
Maryland’s primary election was delayed by three weeks because of lawsuits challenging congressional maps and state law.
Follow AP for complete midterm election coverage at https://apnews.com/hub/2022-midterm-elections and on Twitter, https://twitter.com/ap_politics.
___ Associated Press writer Michael Kunzelman in Silver Spring contributed to this report.
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Trump-endorsed Cox wins Maryland gubernatorial primary over Hogan
Source link Trump-endorsed Cox wins Maryland gubernatorial primary over Hogan