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Voters head to polls in Maryland, where Trump’s clout over GOP faces a test in gubernatorial primary

Former President Donald Trump isn’t on the ballot Tuesday in Maryland’s primaries, but he’s front and center as the candidate he’s backing is one of the co-front-runners in the race for the Republican nomination for governor. Also a factor are national Democrats, who’d spent seven-figures to meddle in the GOP primary.

The other marquee contest is the crowded field of contenders vying for the Democratic gubernatorial nomination, which includes a former U.S. Labor secretary who later served as Democratic National Committee chair, a former U.S. secretary of education, the state’s current comptroller, and a best-selling author who can count on Oprah Winfrey as a top supporter.

There’s also a couple of congressional primary showdowns that are grabbing some national attention as voters heads to the polls in blue state Maryland.

In the race succeed term-limited Republican Gov. Larry Hogan, Trump’s long been backing state Delegate Dan Cox in the Republican primary. Hogan’s backing Kelly Schulz — a former state lawmaker who served as Maryland’s secretary of labor (2015-2019) and secretary of commerce (2019–2022) in the governor’s administration. Cox and Schulz are the two clear front-runners in the most recent polling of the four-candidate.

TRUMP AND HOGAN TRADE FIRE IN MARYLAND’S GOP GUBERNATORIAL PRIMARY

Trump in statement last week said that “Dan will end Larry Hogan’s terrible RINO reign by defeating his “Never Trump” successor, another low-energy RINO, Kelly Schulz.” And during a recent tele-rally for Cox, the former president argued that “you don’t want Hogan’s anointed successor… Anybody he wants, frankly, I’d be against just on that basis alone.”

DEMOCRATS MEDDLE IN MARYLAND’S GOP GUBERNATORIAL PRIMARY

Hogan, in a Fox News interview last week, claimed that Cox is a “crazy guy” who has “no business whatsoever running for governor and has no ability to win a race.”

The Democratic Governors Association, which is hungry to flip the Maryland governor’s office from red to blue, seems to agree with Hogan.

Del. Dan Cox, a Maryland state legislator who is seeking the Republican nomination for governor of Maryland, talks to reporters, in Annapolis, Md., Thursday, June 30, 2022. 

That’s why the DGA, the top organization helping Democratic candidates in gubernatorial races, spent roughly $2 million to run ads boosting Cox ahead of the primary. Democrats view Cox, a conservative lawmaker who supports Trump’s repeated unproven claims that his 2020 election loss to now President Biden was due to “massive voter fraud,” and who takes a hard line in opposing abortion, as a weaker candidate than Schulz in November’s general election.

HEAD TO THE FOX NEWS ELECTIONS CENTER FOR THE LATEST PRIMARY RESULTS 

In the Democratic primary, former Labor Secretary Tom Perez, who later served as DNC chair, is hoping to make history as Maryland’s first Latino governor. He’s one of three polling front-runners in the primary, along with state Comptroller Peter Franchot and author and former non-profit CEO Wes Moore, whose latest TV ad is narrated by his best-known supporter — Oprah Winfrey. The media mogul also headlined a recent virtual fundraiser for Moore.

Also among the Democratic candidates is former Education Secretary John King, who if elected would become Maryland’s first Black governor.

From left, Maryland Comptroller Peter Franchot, Ashwani Jain, John King and Tom Perez stand at their podiums just before a debate of eight candidates seeking the Democratic nomination for governor of Maryland June 6, 2022 in Owings Mills, Md.

Another race in the national spotlight is the GOP primary in Maryland’s 6h Congressional District, which stretches from the outer suburbs of Washington D.C. to the western edge of the state and includes Maryland’s mostly rural panhandle.

Democratic Rep. David Trone, the wealthy co-founder and co-owner of Total Wine and More, is running for a third term for a seat that’s become more competitive after it was redrawn in the once-in-a-decade congressional redistricting process. Trone, who has self-financed his political campaigns, faces a handful of longshot primary challengers.

DONALD TRUMP JR. THE LATEST TO BACK A 25-YEAR OLD CONGRESSIONAL CANDIDATE IN MARYLAND

But it’s the GOP primary to determine Trone’s challenger in November that is grabbing national attention, as it’s turned into a battle between experience versus endorsements.

The six-candidate Republican field includes state Rep. Neil Parrott, who’s served in the state legislature for over a decade and whose successful lawsuit forced the reshaping of the once heavily Democratic congressional district, giving the GOP their first shot at winning the district since 2014.

Parrott’s top rival for the nomination is Matthew Foldi, a 25-year-old conservative journalist who’s landed endorsements from Hogan, House GOP Leader Kevin McCarthy, House Republican Conference chair Elise Stafanik, as well as top GOP donor and billionaire investor Paul Singer and Steven Law, a leading Republican consultant who steers a handful of influential pro-GOP outside groups.

Matthew Foldi is a candidate in the July 19 Republican primary election to represent Maryland's Sixth Congressional District in the House.

The Democratic primary for an open House seat in the heavily blue and majority Black 4th Congressional District in Prince George’s County is also in the national spotlight.

Former Rep. Donna Edwards, who represented the district for a decade before running unsuccessfully for the Senate, is bidding to win back her old job. She’s facing off against Glenn Ivey, who served as Prince George’s top prosecutor. The winner will be the overwhelming favorite in November to succeed Democratic Rep. Anthony Brown, who passed on seeking another term in Congress and instead is running for Maryland attorney general.

Pro-Israel outside groups have shelled out nearly $6 million in the primary race to criticize Edwards or beef up Ivey. The spending by the groups was triggered by past statements and votes by Edwards during her years in the House that were critical of Israel.

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