Trump-Backed Lawmaker Who Called Mike Pence a 'Traitor' on Jan. 6 Wins GOP Primary for Maryland Governor

Boosted by Democrat spending and Trump's endorsement, Dan Cox clenched the GOP nomination. A defeated opponent predicts he’ll lose big in November

Photo: Nathan Howard/Getty

A Trump-backed election denier running for governor in Maryland has won the Republican primary election.

Dan Cox, a first-term state legislator who has expressed doubts about the legitimacy of the 2020 presidential race, earned 56.2% of the vote in Tuesday's election, defeating an opponent, Kelly Shulz, who was backed by term-limited Republican Gov. Larry Hogan.

In endorsing Cox, Donald Trump praised him while denouncing Shulz as well as Hogan, who's been an outspoken critic of the former president.

"Dan is MAGA all the way — unlike his opponent, Kelly Shulz, who was handpicked by her 'boss,' RINO Larry Hogan, who has been terrible for our Country and is against the America First Movement," Trump said in a Nov. 2021 statement, using a favorite insult, "RINO," which stands for Republican in name only.

Trump also applauded Cox for fighting "against the Rigged Presidential Election."

While there is no evidence that the 2020 presidential election was rigged, there are numerous examples of Cox supporting Trump's false claims.

Cox attended the rally on Jan. 6, 2021, in support of Trump's efforts to prevent Joe Biden from becoming president and, according to The New York Times, chartered busses from his home county to Washington for the event.

As violence unfolded at the U.S. Capitol and some rioters chanted, "Hang Mike Pence," Cox tweeted, "Pence is a traitor."

He later apologized in a letter to the leaders of the Joint Committee on Legislative Ethics.

"At no time was I calling his action 'treason' or 'sedition' which are legal terms of art," Cox wrote, according to The Washington Post, which obtained a copy of the letter. "I intended the verbiage to convey a betrayal of us his voters and a deep disappointment."

Nathan Howard/Getty

At a fundraiser in December, Cox said Trump was "the only president that I recognize right now" and suggested that Biden had been "installed" in the White House, according to the Times.

He also previously called on the former president to "seize federal vote machines in states where fraud was overwhelmingly rampant" during the 2020 election, the Times reports.

If elected in November, Cox has promised to conduct a "forensic audit" of the 2020 election.

First, though, he'll have to beat the Democratic nominee. Wes Moore currently leads among the Democrats with 36.7 percent of the vote, though the election had not been called as of Wednesday morning.

Democrats are banking that their nominee will easily defeat Cox in Maryland, a state Biden won in 2020 by more than 30 points.

In fact, the Democratic Governors Association spent more than $1 million on TV ads to boost Cox and highlight his far-right stances during his primary race, based on the belief that he will be the easier candidate to defeat in the general election, according to NBC News.

Shulz predicted that Cox will lose to the Democratic nominee, the Times reports. "My Republican Party is the party of Lincoln, Teddy Roosevelt, Ronald Reagan and John McCain," she said. "And that is exactly the party that I will continue to fight for."

One of her senior aides, Doug Mayer, said nominating Cox amounted to "ritualized mass suicide" by Republicans, according to the Times report.

"The only thing that was missing," Mayer said, "was Jim Jones and a cup of Kool-Aid."

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