Larry Hogan lashes out at Donald Trump as Maryland governor’s race becomes a referendum on MAGA
Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan suffered a major disappointment on Tuesday night, July 19, when far-right conspiracy theorist and QAnon ally Dan Cox defeated former Maryland Commerce Secretary Kelly Schulz in the state’s 2022 Republican gubernatorial primary. And he is responding to Cox’s victory by lashing out at the nominee’s most famous supporter: former President Donald Trump.
It isn’t hard to understand why Hogan is so frustrated. Hogan, like Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker, is a GOP success story in a very blue state. In Maryland’s last gubernatorial race, Hogan defeated Democratic nominee Ben Jealous by 12 percent — and he did that in 2018, the year Democrats enjoyed a massive blue wave in the U.S. House of Representatives.
It was obvious how blue Maryland was in 2020, when President Joe Biden won the state by 33 percent. And Hogan reasoned that the best way to keep Maryland’s governor’s office in Republican hands was to endorse someone similar to himself: Schulz. Like Hogan, Schulz is conservative but not MAGA and not far-right. On July 19, however, Republican primary voters gave Cox, who serves in the Maryland House of Delegates, the nomination by 16 percent.
On July 20, Hogan tweeted, “Trump lost Republicans the White House, the House, and the Senate. He’s selfishly colluded with national Democrats to cost us a Governor’s seat in Maryland where I ran 45 points ahead of him. He’s fighting for his ego. We’re fighting to win, and the fight goes on.”
Hogan isn’t the only one on the right who is disappointed by Cox’s victory. Never Trump conservative Bill Kristol told the Washington Post that “Hogan is popular in Maryland” but went on to lament, “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…. I don’t think enough of the party is where he is right now. I don’t know if that changes in the future…. The main thing is that Trump endorsed Cox.”
No one will mistake the ultra-MAGA Cox for a Never Trumper. Maryland’s Republican gubernatorial nominee has taken part in QAnon events, falsely claimed that the 2020 presidential election was stolen from Trump, and promoted hydroxychloroquine and ivermectin as COVID-19 treatments. The Bulwark’s Jim Swift, a Never Trumper, has described Cox as a “far-right kook.”
Many Maryland Democrats share that view of Cox, which is why they were hoping he would defeat Schulz in the primary; they reasoned that in a state as blue as Maryland, the Democratic nominee could easily win. And Hogan, in addition to lashing out at Trump, has lashed out at the Democratic Governors Association (DGA).
Similarly, Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro and other Democrats in the Keystone State opined that if far-right Pennsylvania State Sen. Doug Mastriano won that state’s gubernatorial primary, he would be easier to defeat than the other primary candidates. But politically, Pennsylvania is much different from its neighbor Maryland. While Maryland is deep blue, Pennsylvania is very much a swing state. And now that Mastriano is actually the nominee, Pennsylvania Democrats are fearing that Pennsylvania could end up with a QAnon-friendly Christian nationalist governor who is even to the right of Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis and Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas.
Trump has been slamming Hogan. On his social media platform Truth Social, Trump wrote, “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!”
In response to Cox’s victory in Maryland, Democratic strategist Don Calloway told MSNBC, “Ultimately, Democrats want to run against the weakest candidate.” And he added that Cox is “crazy enough to be repulsive to the moderate or undecided voter.”
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