(WASHINGTON) — With Tuesday’s primary, a contentious race to succeed Maryland’s term-limited Gov. Larry Hogan is about to enter its next phase as Republicans seek to hold the seat of a popular incumbent while Democrats work to retake the governorship — in part by trying to influence the contest to get the GOP nod.
The front-runners in the Republican gubernatorial primary are state Del. Dan Cox, an attorney endorsed by former President Donald Trump, and former state Commerce Secretary Kelly Schulz, who was endorsed by Hogan.
The contest is something of a proxy battle between Trump and Hogan (a possible 2024 presidential contender and a major voice in the GOP’s anti-Trump minority) and their contrasting visions for their party’s success in Maryland.
Schulz could become the state’s first female governor. She has focused her campaign on issues such as the economy, education and creating a safer community, and she has leaned on her endorsement from Hogan — who is widely popular in the state — and her work in his Cabinet.
After the overturning of Roe v. Wade, Schulz said that she would not change Maryland law, which allows for abortion, but reaffirmed that she was personally opposed.
Her current stance on abortion is much different than the one she held in 2011, when she sponsored the “Maryland Personhood Amendment,” which would have allowed voters to decide to amend the state’s constitution to give rights to people “from the beginning of their biological development.” That amendment failed in the state’s Democratic legislature.
Cox says he is “running to restore freedom” and has focused in part on education, saying he supports parental rights in schools, opposes critical race theory (though that academic framework is not widely taught outside of universities) and has supported legislation against teaching gender identity in kindergarten through third-grade classrooms.
Cox opposes abortion without exception and he tried to sue Hogan over the state’s COVID-19 restrictions.
His record has been spotlighted by Democratic advertising during the primary — a tactic that Hogan criticized, arguing it was an attempt to boost Cox in the eyes of conservatives even though he may be weaker in the general election.
Cox called then-Vice President Mike Pence a “traitor” in a since-removed tweet after Pence certified the 2020 election results. In another deleted tweet, Cox also said he was arranging two buses to drive constituents to Trump’s Jan. 6, 2021, appearance near the White House shortly before a pro-Trump mob stormed the U.S. Capitol. (Cox said he wasn’t at the Capitol.)
In the Democratic gubernatorial primary, three leading candidates have emerged: former Democratic National Committee Chair Tom Perez, state Comptroller Peter Franchot and Wes Moore, an author and former nonprofit CEO who held a virtual fundraiser with Oprah Winfrey.
Another race drawing notice is the Republican primary for Maryland’s 6th Congressional District. Currently held by Democrat David Trone, several GOP contenders are fighting for the chance to go against him in November.
State Rep. Neil Parrot, who lost to Trone in 2020, is hoping for a rematch in November. However, the race could be shaken up by 25-year-old Matthew Foldi, a newcomer who has received a string of notable endorsements including from Hogan as well as House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, the No. 3 House Republican, Elise Stefanik, Donald Trump Jr. and others.
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