In a race flexing former President Donald Trump's endorsement muscle, Dan Cox won the Republican primary for Maryland governor Tuesday, defeating a moderate rival backed by outgoing Gov. Larry Hogan.
Trump hailed Cox's big victory in a series of Truth Social posts late Tuesday night.
"Congratulations to Dan Cox," Trump wrote after the race was called by Newsmax election partner Decision Desk HQ at 11:38 p.m. ET.
That post came after Trump smashed Hogan for his own failed endorsed candidate Kelly Schulz.
"Wow! Trump endorsed Dan Cox is doing really well tonight in seeking the Republican gubernatorial nomination from the Great State of Maryland," Trump wrote on Truth Social as Cox rolled up his big lead that even surpassed the hundreds of thousands of mail-in ballots that will not be counted until at least Thursday under Maryland law. "Not over yet, but RINO Larry Hogan's endorsement doesn't seem to be working out so well for his heavily favored candidate.
"Next, I'd love to see Larry run for president!"
Cox will face the winner of the Democrat primary in the November general election. Wes Moore, a bestselling author backed by Oprah Winfrey, had an early lead Tuesday night, with the focus starting to turn to mail ballots that will not be counted until later in the week.
Get all the latest Maryland primary results here.
The Republican primary was a proxy battle between Trump and Hogan, who offered vastly 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, urged the party to move on from his brand of politics, while Trump spent much of his post-presidency lifting candidates who embrace calls for election integrity, like Cox.
Cox organized busloads of protesters to Washington for the Jan. 6 Stop the Steal rally and has also said President Joe Biden's victory should not have been certified and sought unsuccessfully to impeach Hogan for his pandemic policies.
Democratic National Committee poured more than $1 million behind an ad intended to boost Cox, viewing him as their preferred opponent in November.
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.
Schulz was endorsed by 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.
The Maryland primary was already delayed by three weeks because of lawsuits challenging the state's congressional and state legislative maps.
Trump, who now has a 137-10 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 was believed to be 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.
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 by 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. 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.
Eric Mack ✉
Eric Mack has been a writer and editor at Newsmax since 2016. He is a 1998 Syracuse University journalism graduate and a New York Press Association award-winning writer.
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