Lawyer and state Del. Dan Cox is projected to defeat former Maryland Commerce Secretary Kelly Schulz in the state’s Republican gubernatorial primary Tuesday, following millions of dollars in spending from the Democratic Governors Association (DGA).
With 72% of votes recorded so far, Cox received 56% support and Schulz garnered 40%, according to The New York Times. Cox was endorsed by former President Donald Trump, while Schulz received support from outgoing Republican Gov. Larry Hogan. Trump repeatedly blasted Schulz as a RINO, and the former president and his opponents cast the race as a referendum on Trump’s presidency.
Crystal Ball Likely D rating remains operative in MD-GOV following Dan Cox (R) winning GOP nomination.
— Kyle Kondik (@kkondik) July 20, 2022
The DGA spent more than $1 million in the closing weeks of the race in an attempt to make Cox seem more appealing to GOP primary voters. The organization’s advertising claimed Cox is “fighting to end abortion in Maryland,” while describing him as “Donald Trump’s handpicked candidate.” The Schulz campaign has responded by arguing that Cox is “the only candidate that can ensure Democrats take back Maryland.”
Support for Cox is part of a Democratic campaign to boost farther-right GOP lawmakers in hopes that they will struggle during the November midterms. The DGA succeeded in helping state Sen. Darren Bailey win the GOP’s Illinois gubernatorial primary. However, moderate businessman Joe O’Dea defeated state Sen. Ron Hanks in Colorado’s Republican Senate primary, and Weld County Commissioner Lori Saine lost in a primary for Colorado’s Eighth District. (RELATED: Democrat Meddling In GOP Primaries Sees Mixed Results)
The National Republican Senatorial Committee filed a complaint with the Federal Election Commission against a Democratic organization spending against O’Dea, arguing that it used deceptive advertising practices.
Overall, Democrats have spent more than $42 million on advertising in Republican primaries, according to Axios’ Josh Kraushaar. Many Republicans targeted in the strategy, including California Rep. David Valadao, are hoping to hold onto traditionally Democratic seats.
Cox will have to wait to learn who he will face in the general election. With thousands of mail-in ballots outstanding, author Wes Moore leads former Democratic National Committee chairman Tom Perez by about 10% in the Democratic primary.