State Del. Dan Cox, who had the endorsement of former President Donald Trump, has won the GOP nomination for governor of Maryland.
The Associated Press called the race on Tuesday night. Cox will face the winner of the Democratic primary in November and will be a substantial underdog.
Author and executive Wes Moore was leading the Democratic primary on Tuesday night, pulling 37% of the vote to former Labor Secretary Tom Perez’s 27%. The race was unlikely to be called on Tuesday night, since Maryland counties will not begin counting mail ballots until Thursday morning.
The victory for Cox, who has wholeheartedly embraced Trump’s lies about the 2020 presidential election and espouses hard-line conservative views on most major issues, is also a stinging defeat for Republican Gov. Larry Hogan, the popular moderate who has repeatedly clashed with the former president and is eyeing a presidential bid in 2024.
Hogan endorsed, fundraised and campaigned for Kelly Schulz, a former member of his Cabinet and Cox’s main competition for the nomination.
Cox’s victory, in the eyes of most Democrats and national Republicans, means the GOP has little to no chance of winning the governorship in November.
The Democratic Governors’ Association controversially intervened in the primary, airing ads highlighting Cox’s ties to Trump and opposition to abortion rights. While those positions are unpopular with the broader electorate in Maryland, a state that President Joe Biden won by 30 percentage points in 2020, they effectively boosted Cox’s name identification in a primary where both candidates were little known.