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Election 2022 Government & Politics

Hogan: GOP primary winners unelectable in November

Gov. Lawrence J. Hogan Jr. (R) works the crowd at the Maryland Department of Agriculture’s annual Buy Local Cookout in Annapolis on Thursday. Photo by Bruce DePuyt.

Gov. Lawrence J. Hogan Jr. expressed grave concern about the Maryland Republican Party’s chances for victory at the ballot box this fall, saying that Tuesday’s primary results virtually guarantee a Democratic sweep in November.

“We’re going to lose this seat,” Hogan (R) said of the race for governor. “We don’t even have a campaign now.”

Hogan’s comments, offered Thursday evening at the state Department of Agriculture’s annual “Buy Local Cookout” in Annapolis, were his first since Del. Dan Cox (R-Frederick), a Trump-aligned member of the House of Delegates, trounced Hogan’s choice to succeed him as governor, former Commerce Secretary Kelly Schulz.

The governor said he was reluctant to question Schulz’s campaign — “I hate to Monday-morning quarterback, I think the world of Kelly” — but he made it clear that her loss dooms the party’s chances of defeating likely Democratic nominee Wes Moore.

“We lost at least the chance for a Republican governor in Maryland. It’s going to go back to a Democratic monopoly,” he said. “It’s a bad day for the party and the state.”

Cox and his running mate, attorney Gordana Schifanelli, have a history of conspiracy-mongering and outlandish statements. Hogan said having them at the top of the ticket is “pretty disastrous” for down-ballot Republicans, who will undoubtedly be asked to respond to comments the duo make on the campaign trail.

Although his political resume is thin, Cox ran with the enthusiastic endorsement of former President Donald Trump, with whom Hogan has repeatedly clashed. The Schulz-Cox race was widely seen as a proxy war between Maryland’s popular governor, who is term-limited after nearly eight years in office, and the disgraced former president, who continues to exert sway over the GOP base.

Cox’s voice mailbox was full on Thursday evening and he did not respond to a text message seeking reaction to Hogan’s comments.

On Thursday morning, local elections boards began counting the more than 250,000 mail-in ballots they have received so far. As of midnight, 19 counties had forwarded partial tallies to the state elections board.

With those ballots added to the early vote and election day totals, Cox and Schifanelli retained a 13-point lead — 54.7% to 41.3% — over Schulz and her running mate, Jeff Woolford. The Cox ticket’s lead was 139,217 to 105,179.

Schulz has yet to concede the contest, but her lackluster showing came despite the enthusiastic embrace of Hogan, Maryland’s most popular governor in generations. Hogan appeared with her at events and many people who’ve donated to him pumped money into her campaign. The governor’s first-term communications director, Doug Mayer, was a Schulz campaign strategist.

The governor, who is testing the waters for a potential White House bid two years from now, toured New Hampshire, the traditional first-in-the-nation primary state, last week. He watched the returns come in from a Republican Governors Association gathering in Colorado Springs, Colo.

Schulz’s failure to capitalize on Hogan’s popularity has been cast by some national commentators as a blow to his chances of springboarding into the 2024 race for the White House. In his remarks to reporters, Hogan rejected that analysis.

“I’m still the fourth most popular governor in America and I have very strong numbers among Republicans,” he said. “But I wasn’t on the ballot.”

“I ran 45 points ahead of Donald Trump” in Maryland in 2020, Hogan said. “He’s never going to win Maryland and neither is Dan Cox.”