Trump-Backed Cox Leads Too-Close-to-Call Maryland GOP Governor Primary

Trump-Backed Cox Leads Too-Close-to-Call Maryland GOP Governor Primary Dan Cox, his wife Valerie Cox, and their 5-month-old boy greet supporters during a primary election night event Dan Cox, his wife Valerie Cox, and their 5-month-old boy greet supporters during a primary election night event Tuesday in Emmitsburg, Maryland. (Nathan Howard/Getty Images)

By Eric Mack | Tuesday, 19 July 2022 10:45 PM EDT

In a race that might flex former President Donald Trump's endorsement power, Dan Cox is holding a lead over Kelly Schulz in Tuesday night's Maryland GOP gubernatorial primary in a race still too close to call.

Cox, endorsed by Trump and a staunch defender of election integrity, led Schulz by around 15 points with around 54% of the vote counted as of 10:45 p.m. ET, according to Newsmax election partner Decision Desk HQ. Cox was pulled almost 56% of the vote, while Schulz was below 41%. Get all the latest Maryland primary results here.

Schulz was endorsed by Trump antagonist Maryland GOP Gov. Larry Hogan, who is term limited. It represents a battle between the power of the Trump endorsement against the moderate, anti-Trump GOP establishment he has targeted during these midterm primaries.

It could take days, or even longer, to determine the winners in the most closely contested races. That is because Maryland law prohibits counties from opening mail-in ballots until the Thursday after election day. There are about 500,000 mail-in ballots potentially to be counted.

The Maryland primary was already delayed by three weeks because of lawsuits challenging the state's congressional and state legislative maps.

Trump, who has a 136-10 record among his 2022 midterm primary endorsements coming into the night, has only endorsed one candidate in the main Maryland races, Cox.

One of the best opportunities for Democrats to regain a governor's office this year is in Maryland, and the race to succeed term-limited Gov. Hogan has drawn a crowd of candidates. Winning back the seat should not seem so tough for Democrats in a state where they outnumber Republicans by a 2-1 ratio, but the GOP has won three of the past five gubernatorial elections.

Nationwide, Republicans hold a 28-22 edge in governor's seats. Of the 36 governor's races this year, Maryland and Massachusetts represent the best chances for Democrats to narrow the gap.

That has attracted prominent Democrats to Tuesday's primary, including members of former President Barack Obama's Cabinet: onetime Labor Secretary Tom Perez, who also was chairman of the Democratic Party, and ex-Education Secretary John King.

Wes Moore (37.2%), a bestselling author supported by Oprah Winfrey, was holding almost an 11-point lead over Perez (26.6%) as of 10:45 p.m. ET.

Democrats once held the governor's mansion for more than three straight decades. When Republican Robert Ehrlich won in 2002, he was the first in his party to be governor in 36 years — since Spiro Agnew in 1966.

Hogan's legacy was on the line as polls closed Tuesday night. He had endorsed Schulz, who served as labor and commerce secretaries in Hogan's administration.

Cox, who sued Hogan over his pandemic policies and later sought unsuccessfully to impeach him, has reportedly been boosted the Democratic National Committee plowing more than $1 million behind an ad intended to select their opponent for the general election in the state that has registered Democrats outnumbering Republicans by nearly 2-1, according to The Associated Press.

Hogan has criticized Cox for organizing busloads of Trump supporters to go to Washington on Jan. 6, 2021, for the Stop the Steal" rally Jan. 6. Cox has said he did not go to the Capitol and left before the riot began.

Trump, meanwhile, has branded Schulz and Hogan as RINOs (Republicans in name only).

"Get rid of Shutdown RINO Larry Hogan who is trying to get another RINO into office, Kelly Schulz," Trump said in a statement Monday.

Trump's endorsement of Cox helped him earn 22-year-old Cameron Martin's vote.

"The main reason was because he was endorsed by Trump," Martin said, adding he feels Cox shares his Republican values and "he will best represent me."

Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.

Original Article