Dan Cox, backed by Trump, wins the Maryland GOP governor’s primary

ANNAPOLIS, Md. (AP) — Dan Cox, a far-right state lawmaker backed by former President Donald Trump, won Tuesday’s Republican primary for Maryland governor, defeating a moderate rival backed by outgoing Gov. Larry Hogan became.

Cox will face the winner of the hard-fought Democratic primary in November’s general election. Wes Moore, a best-selling author endorsed by Oprah Winfrey, had an early lead Tuesday night, with focus shifting to mail-in ballots that won’t be counted until later in the week.

Though it was a victory for Trump, Cox’s win over former Hogan cabinet member Kelly Schulz could spell a blow to Republicans’ chances of retaining the seat in November. Barred from running for a third straight term, Hogan was a rare two-year Republican governor in a heavily Democratic state, and he had endorsed Schulz as the successor to his bipartisan leadership style.

Cox has been a thorn in Hogan’s side in recent years, suing in the early days of the pandemic over the governor’s stay-at-home orders and regulations and unsuccessfully attempting to indict him over COVID-19 orders, which Cox described as “restrictive.” and tedious.”

Cox alluded to his fight with Hogan in his Tuesday night victory speech, telling a cheering crowd: “We will never again abandon our bodies, our churches and our businesses to a state of lockdown.”

The Republican primary was seen as a proxy fight between Trump and Hogan, who offered wildly different visions of the party’s future as they pondered campaigning for the 2024 White House. Hogan, one of Trump’s most prominent GOP critics, has urged the party to back away from its divisive policies while Trump spent much of his post-presidency time lifting candidates who embrace his election lies.

One such candidate was Cox, who organized busloads of protesters into Washington for the “Stop the Steal” rally that preceded the Jan. 6 riot in the US Capitol. Cox also said President Joe Biden’s victory should not have been authenticated and called former Vice President Mike Pence a “traitor”.

The Democrats were probably giddy over Cox’s victory in the Republican primary. The Democratic Governors Association invested more than $1 million in an ad designed to empower Cox and saw him as an easier opponent in November.

It could potentially take days or even longer to determine the winners in the most competitive races, including the Democratic gubernatorial primary. Maryland law prohibits counties from opening mail-in ballots until the Thursday after Election Day.

In another top-flight race on Tuesday, Democratic Senator Chris Van Hollen beat back a major challenge just months after suffering a minor stroke. He is favored in November to win a second term.

Voters also selected candidates for an open seat on the state’s eight-member congressional delegation. And the former Attorney General’s daughter was courting her father’s old job.

A total of ten candidates sought the Democratic nomination for governor. Tom Perez, a former US Secretary of Labor and former Democratic Party leader, had support from the unions, while Moore, the former CEO of the Robin Hood Foundation, an anti-poverty organization, had support from the state’s teachers’ union and the two top Marylands became legislative leaders, the Speaker of the House, Adrienne Jones, and the President of the Senate, Bill Ferguson.

Another frontrunner, state auditor Peter Franchot, who won four races to become state tax collector, brought significant notoriety to the primary.

Voter Laura Kretchman, a 41-year-old high school teacher, said Moore’s support from the Maryland State Education Association helped her pick him. She said she was impressed by Moore’s accomplishments after overcoming childhood challenges and being raised by a single mother.

“I teach kids in a school who are also from difficult backgrounds, so I’d love to see what he can do to help these students who are struggling and challenged,” said Kretchman, an Annapolis resident.

Other voters said they would prefer a long résumé in government service. Curtis Fatig, a 67-year-old voter in Annapolis, chose Perez, who also served on Montgomery County Council, as Maryland Secretary of Labor and as Assistant Attorney General for Civil Rights in Obama’s administration.

“He’s not a novice,” Fatig said.

At a Silver Spring elementary school, many Democrats said they voted for governor ahead of November’s general election.

Retired high school teacher Tom Hilton, 75, said he viewed the Democratic elementary school field as “kind of a toss up,” but ultimately chose Franchot.

“Mainly for the financial parts,” Hilton said. “I think he’ll be a little bit more attuned to having a more secure financial future for Maryland.”

Cox’s win on Tuesday is a win for Trump, who has a mixed record of confirmation in this year’s midterm election. But in such a heavily democratic state, his candidate faces an uphill battle heading into the fall.

Trump’s endorsement helped Cox land the voice of 22-year-old Cameron Martin.

“The main reason was that he was supported by Trump,” Martin said, adding that he felt Cox shared his Republican values ​​and that “he will represent me best.”

Maryland’s only open congressional seat is in the 4th congressional district, a heavily Democratic black-majority district. Incumbent US Rep. Anthony Brown is leaving office to run for Attorney General. Former Rep. Donna Edwards, who previously held the seat, succeeded former District Attorney Glenn Ivey in Tuesday’s first results of the Democratic primary.

The Democratic primary for attorney general turned into a battle between the wife of former Gov. Martin O’Malley, Katie Curran O’Malley, a former Baltimore judge and the daughter of former Attorney General J. Joseph Curran Jr., and Brown, O » Malley’s lieutenant governor who lost the 2014 governor’s race to Hogan. Brown took the lead early in the race.

The two wanted to replace Democratic Attorney General Brian Frosh, who is retiring. Maryland has not had a Republican Attorney General for nearly 70 years.

Other elections have had candidates on the ballot for all 188 seats in the Democratic-controlled Maryland General Assembly.

The Maryland primary was delayed by three weeks because of lawsuits against US Congressional and state maps.

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Follow AP for full coverage of the midterms at https://apnews.com/hub/2022-midterm-elections and on Twitter, https://twitter.com/ap_politics.

___ Associated Press writer Michael Kunzelman of Silver Spring contributed to this report.

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