From WTOP’s Election Desk: Former Md. governor throws weight into race

Welcome back to WTOP’s election update! After this week, we’ll return in October for the general election, unless events warrant a special edition.

Local elections | Nick Iannelli

Former Md. governor set to campaign for Cox

Maryland’s Republican nominee for governor, Del. Dan Cox, does not have the support of Republican Gov. Larry Hogan, but he has earned the support of a man who used to be governor.

Former Republican Gov. Robert Ehrlich told Fox 5 Baltimore he would campaign for the party’s statewide candidates, including Cox.

“I’m excited about this fall’s elections and the many opportunities our Republican candidates have to hold and pick up seats up and down the ballot,” Ehrlich said. “I look forward to working with the state party and our GOP candidates to hold the governor’s mansion, pick up key county executive and congressional seats and add additional seats to our General Assembly delegation.”

Ehrlich served as governor from 2003 to 2007. He will step into a role that would traditionally be carried out by Hogan.

Hogan has been heavily critical of Cox, who is backed by former President Donald Trump. Hogan has called Cox extreme and a “QAnon whack job” who has no chance of winning.

Md. Democrats who lost come together

A number of the candidates who lost in Maryland’s Democratic primary in the race for governor have now publicly united behind nominee Wes Moore.

They came together for a unity rally in Silver Spring, saying that no race should be taken for granted, even in deep blue Maryland.

At least four of Moore’s former primary rivals attended the rally, including Comptroller Peter Franchot and former U.S. Labor Secretary Tom Perez.

“Trumpism is on the ballot right here in Maryland. We know that,” said Perez, noting that Cox has pledged to bring Trump-inspired policies to Annapolis if elected.

“We need to put aside our differences,” Franchot added.

Statewide Md. candidate promoted 9/11 conspiracy theory

It turns out Michael Peroutka, Maryland’s Republican nominee for state attorney general, said some pretty controversial things regarding the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.

He once suggested on a radio show in 2006 that controlled demolitions — not airplanes — brought down the World Trade Center.

“If the buildings in New York City came down by demolition charges — that is to say, if there was evidence that something was preset there — then the implications of that are massive,” Peroutka said. “I’ve been doing some reading and doing some studying, and I believe that to be very, very true.”

Hogan condemned the comments, saying, “These disgusting lies don’t belong in our party” and adding that the comments were “an insult to the memory of the thousands of innocent Americans and brave first responders who died that day.”

When asked by The New York Times for comment, Peroutka did not respond.

From Capitol Hill | Mitchell Miller

Is Kansas a political bellwether?

Kansas voters’ overwhelming defeat of a referendum on an abortion ban in the state constitution has political observers buzzing over the potential broader implications for the midterm elections.

The referendum was soundly rejected by 59% to 41%, but the turnout — more than 900,000 — is also getting a lot of attention. That turnout was nearly 60% higher than it was for the 2018 primaries.

Also, as a CNN analysis notes, about 150,000 more people voted on the referendum than in the primary races for governor, suggesting abortion was a motivating issue for many voters.

The constitutional amendment would have affirmed that there is no right to abortion in the state of Kansas.

Democrats who support abortion rights have been touting the vote in Kansas as an indication the issue will motivate voters in races across the country this November.

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer claimed this week that the results show “the winds blowing in the Democratic direction.”

“What happened in red Kansas … is a reflection of what is happening across the country and what will continue to occur through the November elections,” he said.

But except for a handful of states, abortion referendums will not be on the ballot in November. And it remains unclear how much of a factor abortion rights will be in motivating people to go to the polls, in races for Congress, as well as state offices.

Still, there’s no doubt the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe v. Wade in June has altered the political landscape.

In Arizona: Deny, deny, deny

Republican Kari Lake, who was endorsed in her run for Arizona governor by Trump, has also employed his “can’t lose” campaign strategy.

On Thursday night, the race was called for Lake after a close contest with Karrin Taylor Robson in the GOP primary. But even before the election, Lake claimed there was an effort to “steal” it away from her. When reporters pressed her for evidence, she never had any.

Lake, a former TV anchor who has also repeatedly said that the 2020 presidential election was stolen from Trump, was one of a slate of GOP election deniers in Arizona. And they all did well.

Blake Masters, who was also backed by Trump, won the GOP Senate nomination. Mark Finchem, also supported by Trump, won the Republican nomination for secretary of state. The state lawmaker last year tried to decertify the 2020 election in several Arizona counties, on baseless accusations of voter fraud. He was also at the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, though he said he never went inside the building.

It’s interesting how there are so many accusations of fraud when candidates are upset that they — or their preferred candidate — lost an election. But if they win … well, never mind.

Democrats’ unease over Biden

Two longtime New York Democrats running for reelection against each other in one of the most high-profile congressional races in the country got a lot of attention this week for what they didn’t say about President Joe Biden.

During a televised debate, Reps. Jerry Nadler and Carolyn Maloney both declined to explicitly say that they think Biden should run again for the White House in 2024.

Thursday on CNN, Maloney didn’t back down from an earlier statement that she doesn’t think Biden will run again. But she did apologize to the president, saying, “I want you to run. I happen to think you won’t be running, but when you run or if you run, I will be there 100%.”

With the president’s approval ratings still low, Democrats running for office haven’t exactly been running toward defending his record.

In fact, Rep. Dean Phillips, a Democrat from Minnesota, said in a recent radio interview he doesn’t think Biden should run for reelection.

Worth your time

From Nick Iannelli

From Mitchell Miller

Dates to remember

Nick Iannelli

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

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.

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