Leading Md. Republicans Largely Align With Trump on Election Outcome

House Minority Whip Kathy Szeliga (D-Baltimore County) at a news conference. Photo by Danielle E. Gaines.

As President Trump refuses to concede the White House election to former vice president Joe Biden, despite major news outlets calling the election for the Democrat on Saturday, Maryland Republicans — with the notable exceptions of Gov. Lawrence J. Hogan Jr. (R) and Lt. Gov. Boyd K. Rutherford (R) — are falling in line.

Most are staying silent on the election outcome, or expressing support for Trump’s statements that the election was marred by widespread fraud, or at least suggesting the race shouldn’t be called until the president has exhausted all of his legal challenges.

Maryland Matters attempted on Monday and Tuesday to reach the four leading Republicans in the General Assembly and potential GOP candidates for governor to discuss the election results. Only one responded.

“I think everyone should take a deep breath,” House Minority Leader Nicholaus R. Kipke (R-Anne Arundel) wrote in an email. “The President has the right to challenge the results and there is a legal process for that. At the same time Senator Biden has the right to think he has won. In due time we all will know who won and I encourage everyone to be respectful of people on both sides.”

“If Biden wins, I’m going to pray that he does a good job as President and leads as a centrist and not allow the far left to dominate his policies,” Kipke continued. “I don’t know if there was election fraud but if there was it should be investigated. All legal votes must be counted.”

Senate Minority Leader Bryan W. Simonaire (R–Anne Arundel), Senate Minority Whip Michael Hough (R-Frederick) and House Minority Whip Kathy Szeliga (R–Baltimore County) did not respond to requests for comment.

On Tuesday, Szeliga tweeted a link to “Tucker Carlson Tonight,” the Fox News talk show.

“If after all the questions have been answered and it becomes clear that Joe Biden is the legitimate winner of the presidential election, we will accept that and will encourage others to accept it too,” Tucker said in this video.

“We need to find out exactly what happened in this election,” he continued.

“Excellent summary of how many of us are thinking-Tucker: We heard you. It’s hard to trust anything,” Szeliga tweeted with the video.

On Nov. 6, the day before the Associated Press declared Biden the presidential victor, Szeliga retweeted a post from U.S. House Minority Whip Steve Scalise (R-La.): “every single American citizen should be demanding all of this: transparency, count all legal votes, do not count any illegal votes, observation of ballot sorting and counting by both parties, election laws enforced as written. Republicans won’t quit fighting.”

“This should be nonpartisan,” Szeliga wrote in her retweet.

Two possible Republican candidates for governor in 2022 — Commerce Secretary Kelly M. Schulz and Harford County Executive Barry Glassman — also did not respond to requests for comment about Biden’s victory. Rutherford is another potential contender.

On Nov. 7, the day AP declared Biden’s victory, Rutherford tweeted congratulations and sought to make connections with Vice President-elect Kamala D. Harris, a fellow Howard University graduate, and her husband, attorney Douglas Emhoff, a fellow graduate of the University of Southern California Law School.

“Congrats Pres-elect Biden. After spending the day recognizing our veterans, I think of the peaceful transition of power & the ideals of our nation. Wishing the new Admin. success & pride in my fellow #HowardU alum. VP-elect Harris & my #USCTrojan classmate 2nd Gentleman Emhoff.”

Hogan has been vocal about acknowledging Biden’s victory, congratulating him on Twitter and reprimanding Trump in media interviews for his accusations that the election was stolen.

“I think if the president and his team have widespread evidence of voter fraud, they should come forward,” Hogan said at a State House news conference Tuesday evening.

He said that while the state and country grapple with a new surge of COVID-19 cases “it’s really dangerous…not to know” who will be setting public health policy in the months ahead.

Hogan also said that looking ahead to the two early January U.S. Senate runoffs in Georgia, where GOP incumbents are facing tough races, Trump’s refusal to concede may “tarnish the brand and cost us votes.”

“It’s crazy — we’ve got to move on,” he said.

Some Maryland Republicans are in the thick of the Trump campaign effort to discredit the election results — particularly votes being tallied from mail-in ballots.

David Bossie, the GOP national committeeman from Maryland who was Trump’s deputy campaign manager in 2016 has been integral part of the publicity campaign to cast doubt on the results — though he recently tested positive for COVID-19.

Del. Dan Cox (R-Frederick), according to his Twitter account and Republican sources, says he is part of the legal team currently observing the mail-in ballot count in Philadelphia.

And Kimberly Klacik, the erstwhile Republican candidate for Congress in the 7th District who became a Trump favorite and conservative media sensation, said on Twitter that she would spend some of her surplus campaign funds to investigate potential voter fraud in her race with Rep. Kweisi Mfume (D) — which she lost by more than 40 points.

Through late October, Klacik raised $7.3 million for her longshot campaign.

“Luckily, we raised enough money to investigate,” she tweeted.

Bennett Leckrone and Josh Kurtz contributed to this report.

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