Trump-backed Dan Cox wins Maryland Republican primary

Del. Dan Cox, a Maryland state legislator seeking the Republican nomination for governor of Maryland, speaks to reporters in Annapolis, Md., Thursday, June 30, 2022. (AP Photo/Brian Witte)

Dan Cox, a Maryland state legislator seeking the Republican nomination for governor, speaks to reporters June 30 in Annapolis, Maryland. (Brian Witte/Associated Press)

Dan Cox, a far-right state lawmaker backed by former President Trump, won Maryland’s Republican gubernatorial primary on Tuesday, defeating a moderate challenger backed by outgoing Governor Larry Hogan.

Cox will face the winner of the Democratic primary in the November general election. Leading Democratic candidates include former US Secretary of Labor and Democratic Party Chairman Tom Perez, author Wes Moore and State Comptroller Peter Franchot.

Despite being a victory for Trump, Cox’s victory over Kelly Schulz, a former Hogan cabinet member, could be a serious blow to the Republicans’ chances of retaining the seat in November. Hogan, barred from running for a third straight term, was a rare two-term Republican governor in a heavily Democratic state and endorsed Schulz as the successor to his bipartisan leadership style.

The Republican primary was seen as a proxy battle between Trump and Hogan, who offered vastly different views of the party’s future as they consider the 2024 White House races. Hogan, one of Trump’s most prominent Republican critics, urged the party to move on from the former president’s divisive politics, while Trump has spent much of his time since leaving office building up candidates who embrace his election lies.

Cox has said that President Biden’s victory should not have been certified, called former Vice President Mike Pence a “traitor” and unsuccessfully tried to impeach Hogan for his pandemic policies.

Democrats also saw Cox as an easier opponent in a general election, with the Democratic National Committee spending more than $1 million behind an ad meant to boost him into the Republican primary.

In another main race on Tuesday, Democratic Sen. Chris Van Hollen overcame a primary challenge just months after suffering a minor stroke. He is the favorite to win a second term in November.

Voters were also choosing candidates for a vacant seat on the state’s eight-member congressional delegation, and the daughter of the former state attorney general was vying for her father’s old seat.

Ten candidates in all are seeking the Democratic nomination for governor. PĂ©rez has the support of the unions, while Moore, former executive director of the anti-poverty group Robin Hood Foundation, has been endorsed by the state teachers’ union and top legislative leaders, House Speaker Adrienne Jones, and Senate President Bill Ferguson. Franchot, who comfortably won four races to be the state tax collector, brings significant name recognition to the primary.

Associated Press writer Michael Kunzelman in Silver Spring, Maryland, contributed to this report.

This story originally appeared on Los Angeles Times.

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