A Republican delegate perhaps best known for publicly calling Vice President Mike Pence “a traitor” at the height of the Jan. 6 insurrection at the U.S. Capitol established a gubernatorial fundraising committee on Monday.
Del. Daniel L. Cox (R-Frederick and Carroll) has not publicly announced plans to seek the State House next year.
Commerce Secretary Kelly M. Schulz and anti-tax advocate Robin Ficker, a perennial candidate, have launched campaigns for the seat that Gov. Lawrence J. Hogan Jr. (R) will vacate in 18 months due to term limits.
Cox, a lawyer, is in his first term.
He has filed lawsuits seeking to end restrictions on commerce and social interaction that Hogan imposed to slow the spread of COVID-19. The suits were not successful.
He also urged an end to the state of emergency the governor declared in March 2020, arguing the state was making it difficult for small businesses to survive.
But Cox may be best known for organizing a caravan of three buses for constituents to attend the Million MAGA March protest held in downtown Washington, D.C., on Jan. 6, the day Congress met to certify the 2020 election — and for a now-deleted social media post at the height on the siege on the U.S. Capitol.
“Mike Pence is a traitor,” the post read.
Asked about the lawmaker several days later, Hogan said called Cox “a QAnon conspiracy theorist who says crazy things every day.”
“He called me a Communist Chinese spy for China. He called the vice president a traitor. He was down there gathering people at the Capitol. I don’t even know what makes him think this way,” Hogan added. “But he’s certainly not the kind of person I would vote to put in the legislature or support in any way for anything.”
While some dismiss Cox and others like him as extremists, analysts said on Tuesday that his decision to enter the 2022 GOP primary has the potential to impact the race.
Schulz launched her campaign in April but has kept a low-profile since. She has appeared at fundraisers for down-ballot candidates but has made little effort to define herself.
Trump, meantime, retains a firm grip on the Republican base.
“It’s a nightmare for Maryland Republicans,” said St. Mary’s College of Maryland political science professor Todd Eberly.
“Instead of a party unified behind Kelly Schulz, you’d have a primary that pits the establishment, or Hogan, wing of the party against the Trump wing.”
Eberly sees two potential scenarios. In one, Cox “has no impact and flames out early.”
In the other, “he scores a Trump endorsement because Trump would relish to idea of helping the anti-Hogan. Then you could see Marjorie Taylor Greene or similar Trump surrogates campaigning for him.”
Eberly called the latter scenario “a dream come true for Maryland Democrats,” who have lost three of the last five gubernatorial contests.
Cox did not respond to a voice message left at his law firm Tuesday evening, nor did he respond to an email sent to his Gmail account. The Schulz campaign also did not respond to a request for comment.
The web address dancoxforgovernor.com was claimed on May 29 by a web user in Maryland, according to the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers, a nonprofit.
The site is not yet operational.
Separately, former Del. Bill Folden (R) announced that he will run for delegate in District 4, where Cox could leave an open seat. Folden, a Frederick police officer, represented the adjacent District 3B from 2015 to 2019 in the House of Delegates but lost a re-election bid.
He felt compelled to run for office again because he’s concerned about police reform legislation passed in Annapolis last year, Folden wrote in a Facebook announcement on Sunday.
Danielle E. Gaines contributed to this report.