Someone files papers for Dan Cox to run for Congress — but he says it wasn’t him

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Former Del. Dan Cox, the 2022 Republican nominee for governor in Maryland, appears to have filed to run for Congress in the 6th District on Monday.

But in a brief interview, Cox, who is contemplating the 6th District race to replace U.S. Rep. David Trone (D-6th), said it wasn’t him.

Someone filed electronic paperwork with the Federal Election Commission on Monday, entering Cox into the 6th District race. But Cox said he and his wife Valerie are still discussing the possibility of him running for Congress next year and haven’t made any definitive plans.

“We didn’t make a decision,” Cox said. “I’d like to know who did this.”

Cox said he would contact the FEC to see if he could figure out who filed the paperwork and how to stop the unauthorized candidacy from moving forward.

It’s possible, though not likely, that someone else named Dan Cox is seeking the congressional seat.

However, the FEC registration uses the same address that Cox used for his 2022 campaign for governor, a post office box in Frederick. In 2018, when he won a seat in the House of Delegates, and in 2016, when he unsuccessfully ran for a congressional seat in the 8th District, Cox used a P.O. Box in Emmitsburg.

Cox’s entry into the race would no doubt delight Democrats, as they struggle to hold on to Trone’s seat now that the three-term congressman has decided to run for U.S. Senate in 2024. The 6th District is far and away the most competitive in Maryland, and Democrats are fretting that without a self-funder like Trone as their nominee, the seat could slip into Republican hands, depending on the overall political dynamic in 2024.

Cox ran a campaign last year powered by his support for former President Trump, which resulted in a solid victory in the Republican gubernatorial primary over Kelly Schulz, the establishment favorite, but led to a wipeout in the general election against now-Gov. Wes Moore (D).

Cox’s potential candidacy so excited one of the Democrats seeking Trone’s seat, Del. Joe Vogel (D-Montgomery), that he put out a statement calling Cox an extremist who is “completely out of step with the voters of Maryland’s 6th Congressional District.

“We’ll hold Dan accountable on this campaign for his lies about the 2020 election, ties to the Proud Boys, embrace of QAnon, participation in the January 6th insurrection, and his support for abortion bans,” Vogel said.

In fact, the race for the 6th District is still very much developing in both the Republican and Democratic primaries. So far, five Republicans have either filed paperwork with the FEC or the Maryland State Board of Elections to become candidates.

Just last week, former Del. Neil C. Parrott, Trone’s Republican challenger in 2020 and 2022, announced that he had set up an exploratory committee ahead of a third possible bid for the seat, which will enable him to begin raising money. And former Del. Brenda J. Thiam (R-Washington) filed documents with the FEC to become a candidate, though she has made no public announcement about her plans.

In an interview last week, Del. Jason C. Buckel (R-Allegany), the House minority leader in Annapolis, told Maryland Matters he was still contemplating the race — but that he would likely make a decision in late August rather than late July, as he had originally planned, as he continues to consider the political climate as well as his personal and professional responsibilities.

Half a dozen Democrats have announced intentions or filed to run for the seat so far, but others are expected to follow.

Second quarter FEC reports, showing the candidates’ financial activities from April 1 to June 30, are due to be filed on July 15, which will provide an early glimpse into their fundraising abilities.

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