From WTOP’s Election Desk: Cox wins Md. governor primary over Hogan’s pick

Welcome back to WTOP’s weekly election update! WTOP’s team of reporters will keep you informed on the latest through November as primary and election races heat up in the District, Maryland, Virginia and nationwide.

Local elections | Nick Iannelli

Hogan will not vote for Republican nominee

While Del. Dan Cox won the Republican nomination in the Maryland governor’s race, he didn’t win — and won’t win — the support of the current Republican Gov. Larry Hogan.

Hogan spokesman Michael Ricci said Hogan would not endorse or vote for Cox. Ricci declined to confirm whether or not the governor would support the Democratic nominee for governor.

“All I can confirm today, is he will not support Mr. Cox,” Ricci said.

It marks the end of a contentious campaign that has been described as a clash over the fate of the Republican Party, pitting two distinctly different factions of the GOP against one another.

Cox, a far-right lawmaker endorsed by former President Donald Trump, defeated Kelly Schulz in Tuesday’s primary election. Schulz is a former Maryland Commerce Secretary who Hogan endorsed, while Hogan labeled Cox “a QAnon whack job.”

On election night, Cox said he was “grateful to President Trump.”

Trump shared his excitement as well.

“RINO Larry Hogan’s endorsement doesn’t seem to be working out so well for his heavily favored candidate,” the former president said in a statement. “Next, I’d love to see Larry run for president!”

Does this mean Hogan is ineffective?

The primary was surely disappointing for Hogan, but is it also a sign he doesn’t have enough influence among Republicans to seek higher office?

Hogan is widely seen as a potential presidential candidate in 2024, but now voters in his home state have essentially told him they’re not interested in his brand of politics.

In an interview with the Washington Post, Republican strategist Bill Kristol said that “Hoganism, I’m afraid, as of now, is not very popular within the Republican Party in Maryland. And frankly, it’s not popular across the country right now.”

Hogan vowed to continue the “battle for the heart and soul” of the GOP.

“There was no repudiation,” Hogan said. “I mean, I think I’m stronger than ever … and I, for one, am not going to stop.”

Hogan still has stops in Iowa scheduled for next month, though he has said he would not announce a decision about running for president until after he leaves office in January.

Political rematch set for Maryland U.S. House seat

We’ve seen this before.

The primary set up a general election matchup in Maryland’s 6th Congressional District between the incumbent Democratic Rep. David Trone and Republican State Del. Neil Parrott.

It’s a rematch between the two.

Parrott’s primary win comes nearly two years after he lost to Trone in 2020 by nearly 20 points, but the district has changed significantly since then. The boundaries of all the districts were recently redrawn, and the 6th in particular was made more friendly to Republicans, likely making it the most competitive U.S. House race in Maryland this year.

The map now excludes some of the bluer portions of Montgomery County and includes all of Frederick County, in addition to all of Maryland’s rural westernmost counties.

The nonpartisan Cook Political Report has rated the race as “leans Democratic.”

Stay tuned

Due to Maryland’s quirky state law that doesn’t allow election officials to start counting mail-in ballots until two days after the election, we still don’t have results from many races.

Mail-in voting has become much more popular during the pandemic and thus more impactful during the vote-counting process.

As mail-in ballots continue to be counted across the state, results will keep coming in and races that were not called on primary night will eventually be called — and you can track them right here.

From Capitol Hill | Mitchell Miller

What does Cox win in Maryland mean for GOP?

The victory of state Del. Dan Cox in the Republican primary for governor is a major rebuke to Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan, who backed Cox’s opponent Kelly Schulz.

Cox was endorsed by former President Trump, who has bristled at Hogan’s periodic criticism of him for continually complaining about the 2020 election. The GOP nominee for governor has questioned the results of the 2020 election and helped organize buses that were sent to D.C. for a rally on Jan. 6.

Cox’s relatively easy win over Schulz suggests many of Maryland’s Republican voters aren’t ready to accept Hogan’s more moderate approach to politics.

Democrats actually boosted Cox’s campaign prospects, hoping that in the November election, he would be the weaker GOP candidate. The Democratic Governors Association poured more than $1 million into TV advertising that benefited Cox in his race against Schulz.

Democrats, who have an overwhelming advantage over Republicans among registered voters in Maryland, are hoping their base will turn out for their nominee and return the governor’s mansion to their party for the first time in eight years.

Democrats lean into culture wars

Republicans have led the battles of the culture wars for years, often to their advantage in the political arena.

Virginia Gov. Glenn Youngkin has been widely praised by the GOP and political strategists for turning the tables on Democrats on the issue of education. His campaign thrived on criticism of Democrats for ceding too much control over the classroom education of school children and by taking aim at critical race theory.

Now, congressional Democrats are getting more involved in hot button issues, in the wake of the U.S. Supreme Court’s recent decision to overturn Roe v. Wade.

House Democrats voted this week to protect same-sex marriage and protect access to birth control. Forty-seven Republicans joined Democrats in voting for the same-sex legislation, even though it has no chance of passage in the Senate.

Democrats wanted to put GOP lawmakers on the record on the issue and 157 Republicans voted against the bill. The House votes follow those on two bills passed last week to codify protections of Roe and protect individuals who travel to another state to legally seek reproductive care.

McConnell expects plenty of GOP presidential candidates

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell rarely utters a sentence without considering its political purpose. This week, he was asked a question about former President Trump’s planned entry into the 2024 presidential race.

McConnell will often demur when it comes to the topic of Trump, who has often criticized the Senate’s top Republican. Instead, McConnell suggested he expects Trump will have plenty of competition in 2024.

“I think we’re going to have a crowded field for president,” he told reporters at the Capitol. “I assume that most of that’ll unfold later and people will be picking their candidates during a crowded primary field.”

Trump would probably like to “freeze the field,” as Republicans await his expected announcement to run for the White House again.

But McConnell’s brief comment has given other potential candidates the green light to challenge the former president.

McConnell has said he wants Republicans to focus on winning the midterm elections and look to the future, while Trump has shown no sign of ending his public grievances over the 2020 election, which he still claims he won.

Worth your time

From Nick Iannelli

From Mitchell Miller

Mitchell Miller

Mitchell Miller has worked at WTOP since 1996, as a producer, editor, reporter and Senior News Director. After working "behind the scenes," coordinating coverage and reporter coverage for years, Mitchell moved back to his first love -- reporting. He is now WTOP's Capitol Hill reporter.

Nick Iannelli

Nick Iannelli can be heard covering developing and breaking news stories on WTOP.

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