Former President Donald Trump endorsed Republican state Del. Dan Cox in the Maryland governor’s race, calling him an “America First” patriot.
Mr. Trump declared Mr. Cox a candidate who is “MAGA all the way,” and he also blasted Gov. Larry Hogan, a staunch anti-Trump Republican who is term-limited out of the 2022 race.
“As a state delegate, Dan stood up to Hogan when he was supporting and meeting with Joe Biden,” Mr. Trump said. “Dan is for low taxes, school choice, and no more lockdowns. He supports our military, our great vets, our second amendment, which is under attack like never before, and is very strong on election integrity.”
The wide-open race has already attracted a stampede of hopefuls from both parties, as Democrats jockey to take back the governor’s mansion in deep-blue Maryland after Mr. Hogan’s two terms and Republicans scramble to keep their improbably winning streak alive.
In addition to Mr. Cox, Republicans vying for the nomination for governor include Commerce Secretary Kelly Schulz, former state Del. Robin Ficker.
The Democratic field includes state Comptroller Peter Franchot, former Prince George’s County Executive Rushern Baker and former Democratic National Committee Chairman Tom Perez.
Eva Lewis, executive director of the Maryland Democratic Party, blasted Mr. Trump’s endorsement of Mr. Cox.
“It’s not a surprise that Trump would endorse Cox, given his undying fealty to the twice impeached one-termer, but Trump’s endorsement of Cox shows us that the Republican primary is not going to go as smoothly as Kelly Schulz had hoped,” Ms. Lewis said in a statement.
Ms. Lewis also attacked Ms. Schulz for “laying low to avoid uncomfortable questions about her far-right positions,” citing her opposition to abortion and vote against gay marriage.
Richard Bowers, a conservative activist in Maryland who supports Mr. Cox, said the endorsement was a major coup in the GOP primary contest.
“People are ready for common sense government laws that are commonly good for all of us, not just a few chosen,” Mr. Bowers said. “Dan brings that to the table, the ability to govern without party prejudice. His values come from a deeper point.”
Mr. Cox did not immediately respond to an inquiry by The Washington Times.
Mr. Cox’s platform includes expanding Second Amendment rights, advocating for law enforcement and upholding election integrity.
The candidate echoed Mr. Trump’s unproven claims that there was mass voter fraud in the 2020 election which gave President Biden the victory.
Mr. Hogan, who previously referred to Mr. Cox as a “QAnon conspiracy theorist,” dismissed Mr. Trump’s endorsement.
“Personally, I’d prefer endorsements from people who didn’t lose Maryland by 33 points,” Mr. Hogan said on Twitter, referring to the former president’s loss in last year’s election.
Mr. Hogan has been floated as a potential Senate candidate or 2024 presidential contender, though the governor has not indicated his next career move.
Ms. Schulz, a GOP establishment favorite to succeed Mr. Hogan, remained confident she didn’t need Mr. Trump’s endorsement.
“Kelly Schulz’s life experience, credentials, and record of accomplishment make her uniquely qualified to lead this state,” a campaign spokesman said, citing her eight-year career working beside the governor. “Don’t be fooled - Kelly Schulz is the only Republican who can win this race and the only person running who has the strength and ability to prevent the Maryland legislature from passing any law and tax they wish.”