Far-right Maryland legislator Dan Cox, who won the Republican primary for governor, said he would fight COVID-19 restrictions and advance policies of former President Donald Trump if he wins the general election in November.
Cox, who was endorsed by Trump, defeated moderate rival Kelly Schulz, a former member of outgoing Gov. Larry Hogan’s Cabinet, on Tuesday. He had won an estimated 56% of the vote by Thursday evening, to Schulz's 39%.
In an interview with News4's Tracee Wilkins on Wednesday, he said he was elated by his win and humbled by “how many people worked so hard to fight the establishment.”
Cox said Trump called him Wednesday morning. He characterized the ex-president’s support as “a huge help.” If Cox wins in November, he said Marylanders can expect policies similar to Trump’s.
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“We’re going to make sure that the policies that President Trump has advanced are the policies we bring to Maryland, because the Biden policies are hurting us,” Cox said, citing gas prices.
Cox called “children, careers and community” the pillars of his campaign, and criticized public health measures to slow the spread of COVID-19.
“We’re gonna make sure our careers are safe. No more jabs for jobs. No more firing health care workers after working two years of COVID shifts just because they decided a health care choice that was their right to make,” he said.
Most U.S. health care workers at facilities that receive Medicaid and Medicare funds are required to be vaccinated against COVID. The U.S. Supreme Court allowed the federal policy to go forward in January.
The number of Marylanders sickened and killed by COVID is lower in recent months than it has been in other points in the pandemic, state data shows. As of Thursday, 10% of known tests were positive. More than 1.1 million Marylanders have been diagnosed with the virus. The number of people confirmed to have died of the virus is 14,636.
Cox criticized Democratic opponents Wes Moore and Tom Perez as votes in the race continued to be counted.
“Neither candidate is willing to focus on the issues that people are crying out for, and that is to stop the oppression. Instead, the focus on their agendas is going to be heavy taxation, bigger government, heavy-handed policies. Should there be another pandemic, it’s going to be another lockdown. It will be more forced masking,” Cox said.
On abortion, Cox brought up patients who travel to Maryland from out of state for the procedure.
“One thing I intend to do as a pro-life governor is to stop the flood of our taxpayer funds, of millions and millions of dollars, into other people’s choices from out of state,” he said.
President Joe Biden signed an executive order earlier this month aimed at protecting access to abortion. The order includes instructions to the Justice Department and U.S. Department of Health and Human Services to push back on efforts to limit the ability of women to travel across state lines to access abortions.
Abortion is legal in Maryland. People can choose to terminate a pregnancy until the fetus is considered viable by a doctor. According to the Guttmacher Institute, Maryland has two notable restrictions on abortions. First, abortions can only be performed after the point of viability if the mother’s life or health is in danger or if the fetus has a genetic defect, serious deformity or abnormality. Second, caregivers of a minor seeking an abortion must be notified.
Abortion access is protected under Maryland’s current laws, including a voter-approved referendum in 1992 “to prohibit State interference with woman's abortion decision before fetus is viable or, under certain conditions, at any time.”
Cox said he attended Trump’s rally on Jan. 6, 2021, on what he called “election integrity.”
State and federal officials and a number of federal judges have repeatedly found no evidence of widespread voter fraud.
Cox said he attended the rally with seven of his 10 children to hear the president speak on the White House lawn. He said he denounced “all violence” and that others “breaking into the building” was “absolutely wrong.”
“I wasn’t even down there. I wasn’t at the Capitol. We left,” Cox said.
Hogan has criticized Cox for organizing buses to D.C. for the “Stop the Steal” rally that preceded the Jan. 6 insurrection.
“I didn’t bus anybody,” Cox said Wednesday.
Cox helped charter buses to D.C. on Jan. 6, The Washington Post and Maryland Matters reported. He said at the time that President Joe Biden’s victory should not have been certified and tweeted that former Vice President Mike Pence was a “traitor,” the AP reported. Cox later deleted the tweet and apologized.
Cox’s likely support among Marylanders as a whole is unclear. Maryland voters overwhelmingly chose Biden over Trump in 2020, with 65% of voters picking Biden and 32% picking Trump. In 2016, 60% of voters chose former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and 34% chose Trump.
In closing remarks to News4, Cox asked Maryland residents to consider the COVID-19 policies and safety measures in their futures.
“Where do you want your state to go? Do you want your state to go in a direction of children being protected, of parents being once again respected in the schools? Or do you want to have the opposite, where the government dictates and forces and force-masks our kids?” he asked.
“Do you want to have a safe Maryland again?” Cox asked. “Do you want to have a place where we can go and walk in freedom and in peace, and go down to Baltimore city and enjoy ourselves, enjoy some crabs, enjoy dinner and come back, seeing a ballgame and not having to fear? And also, for the residents of Baltimore city, have a place to live that’s safe? That’s the focus of this campaign.”