On August 5th Delegate Dan Cox (District 4) announced he would be seeking the Republican nomination for Governor in the 2022 election. Cox made his announcement at Sailwinds West’s Governors Hall in Dorchester County, becoming the third Republican to officially declare his candidacy. The event was filled with supporters from all 23 counties and Baltimore City and featured former Delegate Pat McDonough and Congressman Andy Harris as speakers, and included a pre-recorded video endorsement from Pennsylvania State Senator Doug Mastriano.
Cox, a delegate from Western Maryland, made a strong statement with his choice of venue in Cambridge. Not only is there a shared sentiment of abandonment in Annapolis (and a growing sense of betrayal towards the governor’s mansion), by residents of both Western Maryland and those on the Eastern Shore, but a large turnout from outside his district served to undercut the narrative establishment Republicans have against Cox, his lack of statewide appeal. His broad base of support, evidenced by event attendance, seems to confirm the notion that Cox could attract a significant portion of the electorate against other primary opponents. Of course, that following is predicated on Cox’s support of the America First agenda and former President Donald Trump, both of which establishment Republican’s fear will make him less likely to succeed in the general. His outspoken opposition of Governor Hogan’s handling of the pandemic and executive mandates doesn’t curry him any favor with administration officials either.
Of the three candidates currently declared the party establishment is aligning behind Commerce Secretary Kelly Schulz, who is positioning herself as heir-apparent to the Hogan Administration. However, her announcement on the heels of Lieutenant Governor Boyd Rutherford’s decision not to run and her reported poaching of Hogan campaign staff has left quite a few toes still sore from being stepped on. The lack of an endorsement from her current boss speaks not only to her actions, but also her prospects. Governor Hogan still holds political capital with Republicans throughout Maryland and is behaving like a term-limited governor who still has ambition for public office. An announcement by another Republican palatable to Hogan could mean an end to Secretary Schulz’s presumed front-runner status. It is likely Governor Hogan (who endorsed Dan Cox during his run for Delegate) will withhold his endorsement until other candidates, particularly former RNC Chairman Michael Steele, have made their intentions known.
Despite her missteps and other uncertainties, Secretary Schulz is all but openly endorsed by many within the party, and receives countless invites from elected go-along-to-get-along Republican officials throughout the state. It is for these reasons political pundits throughout Maryland have contrasted Schulz and Cox as proxies for Governor Hogan and President Trump respectively. They see a victory for Schulz as vindication that Maryland Republicans prefer pragmatism over principle, and that at the end of the day the voters will choose who those at the top tell them to. Cox, therefore, must be unelectable because those in charge don’t want him elected. In a way they’re right. They know more about what the political machine in Annapolis wants than what their constituents want, because they are part of the machine. They spend more time at the Annapolis Yacht Club than they do at the Boys & Girls Club, because they don’t want to hear from us. They have a better gauge of what Democrats would accept than their own party, because that is who they try listen to. To them, Dan Cox could never win because they don’t know what people throughout Cecil County and the rest of Maryland really feel.
The Republican establishment in Maryland thinks that a constitutional conservative like Dan Cox can’t win because he is too radical. For them it’s not about ideas, principles, or debate, it’s about us paying for their campaigns, supporting them on election day, and then doing as we are told. It’s about following the polls and balancing their supposed principles with what the rapidly shrinking persuadable electorate want to hear. What they don’t know is that the principles we live by in Cecil County, and the issues important to voters around this state are middle of the road issues. Wanting the constitution to be followed, wanting a fair application of the law, wanting a free and fair election, and wanting to be allowed to make health decisions for ourselves and our children is middle of the road. The longer the frustrations of Maryland conservatives are ignored, the louder the support for representatives like Dan Cox will become.