‘America First’ GOP Candidate Dan Cox Openly Courts Democrats In Heated Primary

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Democrats are propping up the “America First” candidate in Maryland’s gubernatorial Republican primary, and the campaign is openly courting Democratic voters in return.

Dan Cox, a Republican state delegate and lawyer, has claimed the mantle of “America First” candidate for Maryland governor, and is endorsed by former President Donald Trump. He also has the backing of the Democratic Governors’ Association (DGA), which has spent more than $1 million promoting him to GOP primary voters.

The DGA ads highlight Cox’s friendly relationship with Trump and his claims about electoral fraud in the 2020 presidential election. Cox organized several tour bus trips to Trump’s rally at the Ellipse on Jan. 6, which immediately preceded the Capitol riot. He also called former Vice President Mike Pence a “traitor.”

One ad describes Cox as “Donald Trump’s handpicked candidate,” and says he is “fighting to end abortion in Maryland” while “refusing to support any federal restrictions on guns.” (RELATED: Democrats Boost Preferred Republican Candidates In Key Primaries)

Cox’s opponent in the primary, former state Secretary of Commerce and Secretary of Labor Kelly Schulz, has seized on the Democratic support to cast Cox as unelectable.

“He’s the only candidate that can ensure Democrats take back Maryland in 2022,” a new ad from the Schulz campaign says. “Because if you vote for crazy, Democrats win.”

Cox has made multiple social media posts urging Democrats to switch their party registration to vote for him in the Republican primary. “We need EVERY Republican to vote and we need EVERY America First independent and Democrat to switch parties for our Primary Elections to vote for Dan Cox,” he posted on Facebook in May.

Cox posted a reminder on June 27 that the following day was the deadline to switch party registration before the primary, which occurs July 19. Another post in May gives instructions for voters to change party registration if they aren’t registered as a Republican.

Cox told the Daily Caller he welcomes all “freedom-loving” Americans to join his cause, regardless of which party they currently align with. (RELATED: Hoyer, Pelosi Endorse Two Different Candidates In MD Gubernatorial Race)

“We in the Maryland GOP lost over 40,000 Republicans because of Larry Hogan and Kelly Schulz’s communist-style lockdown and vicious anti-Trump politics during the last two years,” Cox said. “I have called for those Marylanders to come back to the Party and they are.”

“We are about changing hearts and minds, we are winning many back to the Party and some to change based upon principles and the Constitutional rights we all hold dear as Americans.”

ANNAPOLIS, MARYLAND – APRIL 17: Maryland Governor Larry Hogan (L) and Commerce Secretary Kelly Schulz wear a face masks as they depart a news conference about the ongoing coronavirus pandemic with in front of the Maryland State House April 17, 2020 in Annapolis, Maryland. Maryland Superintendent of Schools Karen Salmon announced that all state public schools will remain closed until May 15. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

Cox also gave an interview to the Baltimore Banner, a non-profit news service founded in 2022 by former Democratic politicians and operatives. The Baltimore Banner describes itself as “a trademark registered in the U.S. for The Venetoulis Institute for Local Journalism.” The Venetoulis Institute is chaired by former state lawmaker and Democratic mega-donor Stewart Bainum.

The delegate has faced criticism for refusing town hall-style appearances at the Maryland Municipal League, and declining media requests from local news outlets like Maryland Matters and The Baltimore Sun. Cox provided a list of interviews with national conservative outlets, such as Newsmax and OAN, to the Daily Caller when asked about his media appearances.

Cox maintained a narrow lead in a recent Goucher College poll for the July 19 primary.