Republican voters in Maryland on Tuesday made their state the most recent to raise a nominee for governor who denies the 2020 election’s legitimacy, selecting Dan Cox, a first-term state legislator who wrote on social media in the course of the Capitol riot that Vice President Mike Pence was “a traitor.”
Mr. Cox handily defeated Kelly Schulz, a political protégé of Gov. Larry Hogan, a frontrunner of the party’s anti-Trump wing, in a contest defined by Mr. Cox’s endorsement from former President Donald J. Trump and Democratic television promoting meant to assist Mr. Cox’s candidacy.
The Associated Press called the race late Tuesday. The Democratic primary was too near call, though Wes Moore, a best-selling writer and former nonprofit executive, held a lead over Tom Perez, a former Democratic National Committee chairman.
Like their brethren in Illinois and Pennsylvania, Maryland Republicans selected a Trump-endorsed candidate from the far right as an alternative of opponents backed by the political establishment, which warned in each state that Mr. Trump’s picks can be toxic in the overall election.
Maryland’s contest could have broader implications for 2024 presidential politics. Mr. Hogan has sought to present himself as a possible alternative to Mr. Trump, who has been considering an early 2024 announcement, however the governor’s failure to assist his handpicked successor win the nomination in his home state will raise questions on his political clout.
The list of Mr. Cox’s false claims about elections is long. In December, he said that Mr. Trump was “the one president that I recognize right away” and argued that Mr. Biden had been “installed” within the White House. Earlier, he had baselessly claimed that widespread voter fraud had occurred in Frederick County, where he lives, and had called on Mr. Trump to “seize federal vote machines in states where fraud was overwhelmingly rampant” after the 2020 election.
Mr. Cox also chartered three buses from his home county to the pro-Trump rally in Washington on Jan. 6, 2021.
Mr. Cox, whose campaign raised little money, was the beneficiary of greater than $1.16 million in television promoting from the Democratic Governors Association, which tried to assist his primary campaign in hopes that he can be easier to defeat in the overall election. Democrats across the country have employed similar strategies to help far-right candidates in G.O.P. primaries this yr, despite the chance that it could backfire.
If elected, Mr. Cox has promised to conduct “a forensic audit” of the 2020 election, seek to ban all abortions in Maryland and end “sexual indoctrination” within the state’s public schools.
“We see that freedom matters,” Mr. Cox said at his victory party in Emmitsburg, Md. “It matters to all parties in Maryland, we’re excited to hold that banner.”
Mr. Cox now faces a steep general-election challenge in a state Joseph R. Biden Jr. won by greater than 30 percentage points. Republicans like Mr. Hogan have done well in Maryland by appealing to independents and moderate Democratic voters anxious about Democratic dominance of the General Assembly; Mr. Cox has predicated his campaign on a fealty to Mr. Trump and his far-right base.
Democrats hold supermajorities in each chambers of the Maryland General Assembly.
In remarks to supporters in Annapolis before the race was called on Tuesday night, Ms. Schulz expressed regret about Republican voters’ loyalty to Mr. Trump and lamented that the G.O.P. had strayed from its historical roots.
“My Republican Party is the party of Lincoln, Teddy Roosevelt, Ronald Reagan and John McCain,” she said. “And that is strictly the party that I’ll proceed to fight for.”
Ms. Schulz had predicted Mr. Cox would lose the overall election by 30 percentage points to any of the Democrats running.
“The Maryland Republican Party got together and committed ritualized mass suicide,” said Doug Mayer, a senior aide to Ms. Schulz. “The one thing that was missing was Jim Jones and a cup of Kool-Aid.”
Democrats were selecting amongst a field of nine candidates, the highest tier of which included Mr. Moore, who campaigned as a political newcomer; Mr. Perez, a former labor secretary; and Peter Franchot, the state comptroller, who has been in Maryland politics since 1987.
Early Wednesday, Mr. Moore was ahead of Mr. Perez, with Mr. Franchot well behind, though a major variety of Democratic votes had yet to be counted.
Mr. Moore built his advantage through his strength in Baltimore City and Prince George’s County, that are home to the state’s largest concentrations of Black voters. He was winning about half of the vote in Prince George’s County, a populous Washington suburb, a margin that may be difficult for Mr. Perez to make up.
Because Maryland law prohibits the processing and counting of ballots returned by mail and in drop boxes until Thursday, the final result of the Democratic primary for governor and other close races may not be known for days.
As Democrats attempt to retake a governor’s office that has been held since 2015 by a Republican, Mr. Hogan, their primary contest was defined by stylistic differences quite than ideological ones. Mr. Perez and Mr. Franchot emphasized their long experience in government, while Mr. Moore argued that the party needed recent blood.
“You already know what you’re going to get with Tom Perez,” Mr. Perez said last week in an interview outside an early-voting site in Silver Spring. “It’s a workhorse, not a show horse. It’s someone with a proven track record of getting stuff done.”
In an interview on Tuesday on MSNBC, Mr. Moore dismissed criticism that he had given misleading impressions about his personal history and accomplishments, and said the true risk can be elevating an institution candidate.
“People usually are not on the lookout for the identical ideas from the identical people,” he said.
No less than 169,000 Democratic absentee ballots and greater than 38,000 Republican ballots had been returned as of Monday, in keeping with the State Board of Elections. One other 204,000 Democratic and 58,000 Republican absentee ballots were mailed to voters and remain outstanding. Ballots postmarked on Tuesday will count in the event that they are received by July 29.
One other 116,000 Democrats and 51,000 Republicans voted in the course of the state’s eight days of early in-person balloting, which ended last week.
The turnout was expected to outpace past competitive primaries in Maryland. 4 years ago, in one other closely contested Democratic primary for governor, 552,000 people voted. Officials involved within the Democratic campaigns expected between 600,000 and 700,000 votes this yr in the first for governor.
The Republican turnout picture was murkier. There has not been a meaningful statewide G.O.P. primary in a midterm yr since 2014, when Mr. Hogan first ran. That yr, 215,000 Republicans voted.
Within the state’s open contest for attorney general, Republicans were selecting between Michael Anthony Peroutka, who has on several occasions spoken to the League of the South, a bunch that calls for the states of the previous Confederacy to secede again from the US, and Jim Shalleck, a prosecutor who has served as president of the Montgomery County Board of Elections.
Within the Democratic primary, Representative Anthony Brown, who served as lieutenant governor under Gov. Martin O’Malley, prevailed against Mr. O’Malley’s wife, Katie Curran O’Malley, who was a judge in Baltimore for twenty years.
Republicans haven’t won an election for Maryland attorney general since 1918.
In other Maryland races, former Representative Donna Edwards, a Democrat, was defeated in her bid to win back the Prince George’s County-based House seat she gave as much as run for the Senate in 2016.
Glenn Ivey, a prosecutor, beat her in a race that became a proxy war over Israel policy.
The United Democracy Project, a political motion committee affiliated with the American-Israel Public Affairs Committee, spent $5.9 million to assist Mr. Ivey. Ms. Edwards, for her part, was backed by J Street, a liberal Jewish organization.
And in a House district that stretches from the Washington suburbs across Western Maryland to the West Virginia line, Mr. Trump and Mr. Hogan — frequent critics of one another — endorsed the identical candidate, only to see him go down in defeat.
That candidate, a 25-year-old conservative journalist, Matthew Foldi, lost to Neil Parrott, a Republican state legislator. Mr. Parrott will face Representative David Trone, a wealthy Democrat, in a rematch of their 2020 contest.