My observations about the current state of the Maryland Republican Gubernatorial primary…
For the record, I like all three candidates (four if your include Michael Steele) and they each have pluses and minuses so I am weighing each of them and watching their platforms.
Dan Cox – ideologically I align with this candidate the most. Cox does not care if he offends your sensibilities while he is pursuing his truth. Cox penchant for confronting issues head on has made him the champion of Republican voters who are fed up with mandates and governmental arrogance. The downside of having blinders on is sometimes there is collateral damage when the wrong thing is said, or because of your style, things are taken out of context.
Cox has the clearest message of the announced candidates and has made inroads with the parent groups across the state upset about local school board overreach. Tapping into the local education issue was successful for Youngkin in Virginia, perhaps it may also be the path to winning the GOP nomination.
While President Trump’s endorsement shores up the conservative wing of the party, he leaves the middle open to his more centrist primary opponents. Also, not sure if it was a good idea to alienate Hogan voters by insulting him by name in the endorsement. If Cox can generate significant national money because of the endorsement, it may be worth the in-state headache. Only way through the primary may be if Steele splits the non-Trump moderate/liberal Republican primary vote.
Robin Ficker – most people are not paying attention to Ficker, but in a race where the average Republican voters has no idea of the other candidates in the race, Ficker’s early mail barrage my bear fruit enough to make things interesting. I am always impressed by Ficker’s breath of knowledge, however, I wish he would talk about other important policy issues outside of his 2 cents tax decrease idea. Honestly, I see Ficker picking up enough support to make the margin of error smaller for the eventual winner.
Kelly Schulz – the current Commerce Secretary is walking a fine line between being a Hogan appointee and finding her own voice. I’m still waiting for it to be found. There is no question Schulz is the most experienced candidate in the field – two cabinet posts and a stint in the House of Delegates.
In serving with her on a state commission, Schulz has proven herself to be competent, hard-working and pleasant to deal with. In 2022, is that enough? Schulz path to victory may depend on finding an issue(s) where she can show her true voice, not merely repeating tried and true Republican themes.
In a climate of push back against government overreach, is it possible for a accomplished civil servant to win over the “throw all of the bums out crowd”? If the primary becomes a referendum on the Hogan administration and his governing style, does that help Schulz or hurt her electoral chances in the primary?
Michael Steele – It seems more than probable the former Lt. Gov. will place his hat in the ring in the next week or so. His time at MSNBC definitely kept his name ID up, but it may not be for good reasons. I am not sure what kind of support Steele has left in Maryland, but according to sources, his team thinks there are enough Republican primary voters who are not sold on any candidate currently running in the race.
Steele would instantly make Maryland a much watch state for 2022 because of his former post as LG and his turn as head of the RNC. If you think President Trump’s smack down of Hogan/Schulz was interesting, wait until you read the full to be open barrel barrage the former President will launch at a Steele campaign should the latter decide to run.
Maryland may be the real world laboratory for 2022 and beyond – a pro Trump candidate (Cox) vs an anti-Trump candidate (Steele) and a pragmatist (Schulz) fighting to decide the future path of the Republican Party.
Faculty, Department of Political Science, Towson University. Graduate from Liberty University Seminary.