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Election 2022 Government & Politics

In Longshot Move, Del. Cox Seeks to Impeach Gov. Hogan

Del. Daniel L. Cox (R-Frederick) and his gubernatorial running mate Gordana Schifanelli address the media at the J. Millard Tawes Crab and Clam Bake. Photo by Hannah Gaskill.

Del. Daniel L. Cox (R-Frederick), the GOP candidate for governor who is running with the support of former President Trump, is seeking to impeach Gov. Lawrence J. Hogan Jr. (R).

Cox introduced a resolution in the House on Thursday with articles of impeachment against Hogan. Cox’s resolution seeks to have Hogan “tried by the Senate of Maryland for malfeasance in office, misuse of police power, violations of the separations of powers, theft of the people’s Liberty and property, deprivation of the religious liberties of the people, and abuse of power under false pretenses.”

Cox did not respond to requests for comment left by phone, text and email Thursday morning, and he was not in the House chamber as the resolution was being introduced, because the House was meeting in a pro forma session. But the resolution repeats a litany of conservatives’ grievances against Hogan’s management of the COVID-19 pandemic. Cox filed an unsuccessful lawsuit in 2020 seeking to overturn the governor’s pandemic policies.

Cox’s impeachment resolution accuses Hogan of violating his Constitutional duties, and comes with over a dozen accusations, including that Hogan infringed on Marylanders’ individual liberties by requiring vaccine mandates for health care workers, closing businesses deemed non-essential, and restricting church services and other religious gatherings during the early days of the pandemic. It also says the governor “awarded procurement contracts based on political relationships, misspent Marylanders’ tax dollars on unusable COVID-19 test kits, and intentionally misled the legislature and the public on the status of the inadequate test kits.”

The measure contains six articles of impeachment in all, and will go first to the House Rules Committee for consideration, where it is likely to stall. Like an impeachment of the president in Congress, the impeachment resolution for the governor would go to the full House if it passed out of the Rules panel, and then would move to the state Senate for a trial if the House voted in favor of impeachment. The Senate would then vote on whether to remove the governor from office.

A Hogan spokesman, Michael Ricci, did not immediately respond to a request for comment Thursday. In November, after Trump endorsed Cox, Hogan used unusually harsh language to dismiss the lawmaker after being asked about him at a news conference on crime legislation.

“Dan Cox, the guy that we were hearing about yesterday, is a Q-Anon whack job who was in favor, I think, of calling Mike Pence, my friend Mike Pence, a traitor when they were talking about hanging him,” Hogan said. “So [voters will have] a pretty clear choice.”

Cox isn’t likely to have much support in the General Assembly — even within his own caucus. House Minority Leader Jason C. Buckel (R-Allegany) said Thursday he didn’t think trying to impeach Hogan is “a terribly wise idea.”

“To the best of my knowledge, I don’t think any members of our caucus have co-sponsored it,” Buckel said. “It seems like a distraction.”

No Maryland governor has ever been impeached, though former Gov. Marvin Mandel (D) stepped down for 19 months in the 1970’s after being convicted of federal corruption charges. He returned to office for the final two days of his term after the conviction was overturned.

House Majority Leader Eric G. Luedtke (D-Montgomery) said Cox’s impeachment resolution is a sign that “Republicans are in a bit of disarray right now.”

“The Democrats are staying focused on helping the families and small businesses affected by COVID and will not be distracted by the Republican infighting,” he said.

Cox is competing for the Republican gubernatorial nomination against former state Commerce Secretary Kelly M. Schulz, who is running with Hogan’s blessing. Doug Mayer, a Schulz campaign adviser who is close to Hogan, issued a blistering statement Thursday about Cox’s impeachment resolution.

“Dan Cox is what happens when crazy meets stupid,” he said. “A person who believes that Mike Pence is a traitor and that the Chinese Communist Party has infiltrated Maryland state government is not a rational actor.”

The Cox-Schulz primary is perceived as a battle between the so-called Hogan wing of the party and the Trump wing. Recent polls have shown that both Trump and Hogan are popular with most Maryland Republicans — though Hogan’s approval ratings with the overall electorate are astronomical.

Schulz had considerably more cash on hand than Cox in the mid-January campaign finance reports — $1,050,042 to $271,638. But Cox’s impeachment gambit is sure to attract some attention in the right-wing mediasphere.

Bruce DePuyt contributed to this report.


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In Longshot Move, Del. Cox Seeks to Impeach Gov. Hogan