Heart of the Primaries 2022, Republicans-Issue 32

July 21, 2022

In this issue: Cox wins Maryland gubernatorial primary and Pence counters Trump in Arizona

Note: We’re taking a break from The Heart of the Primaries next week—we’ll see you again on Aug. 4 with takeaways from that week’s primaries and more!

Dan Cox wins Maryland gubernatorial primary

Dan Cox won the Republican primary for Maryland governor, defeating Robin Ficker, Kelly Schulz, and Joe Werner. With 80% of the expected vote in, Cox led Schulz 56% to 40%. (Mail ballot counting didn’t begin until Thursday morning, but outlets didn’t believe there were enough of those ballots to affect the outcome.)

Cox is an attorney who has served in the state House of Delegates since 2018. Schulz, who has worked in the defense and cybersecurity industries, served as Maryland’s secretary of commerce from 2019 through January of this year.

Former President Donald Trump (R) endorsed Cox, while outgoing Gov. Larry Hogan (R) endorsed Schulz. Media observers referred to the primary as a proxy battle between Trump and Hogan. Hogan said in 2020 he wrote in Ronald Reagan for president rather than voting to re-elect Trump. Hogan said Wednesday he would not support Cox in the general election.

The Cook Political Report shifted its general election race rating from Lean Democratic to Solid Democratic on Wednesday. 

Media analysis

Politico and The Wall Street Journal wrote about factional conflict in the gubernatorial primary and the Democratic Governors Association ads about Cox.

Politico wrote:

The win for Cox … who has full-throatedly embraced Trump’s repeated falsehoods about fraud in the 2020 election, scored the former president a victory in his fight with Hogan over the direction of the party both in the state and nationally.

Hogan had backed Kelly Schulz, a former state lawmaker who served in his Cabinet until earlier this year. The Hogan political machine mobilized for Schulz, with prominent advisers to the governor lending a hand to Schulz’ campaign.

“Get rid of Shutdown RINO Larry Hogan who is trying to get another RINO into office, Kelly Schulz,” Trump said in a statement on Monday.

The closing weeks of the race were dominated by the Democratic Governors Association, which dropped a multi-million ad campaign “attacking” Cox as too loyal to Trump. The DGA has insisted it was merely getting a head start on the general election, casting Cox as the frontrunner — despite public polling in the run-up to Tuesday showing Cox and Schulz deadlocked. But the campaign was widely seen as an attempt to boost the more extreme candidate in the Republican primary, in hopes that Cox would be easier to beat in the general election.

The Wall Street Journal wrote:

The primary election outcome sets up what political analysts predict will be an uphill battle for Mr. Cox in the November general election, given that registered Democrats outnumber Republicans 2 to 1 in Maryland and that President Biden defeated Mr. Trump 65% to 32% in 2020.

Maryland, whose incumbent is outgoing moderate Republican Gov. Larry Hogan, is one of the few largely Democratic states where the GOP currently holds the governor’s office.

Mr. Cox pledged to cut taxes, stop what he calls gender indoctrination of schoolchildren and “end the blood running in our streets with high crime and drug deaths.” He has said he thinks the 2020 presidential election was stolen and would order a “forensic audit” of that year’s election.

… Ms. Schulz had hoped to follow Mr. Hogan’s playbook by assembling a coalition of Republicans, independents and Democratic voters in the general election had she won the primary.

Political analysts say Mr. Cox likely benefited from the roughly $1.2 million in advertising that the Democratic Governors Association was projected to air in the primary. The DGA ran an ad highlighting Mr. Cox’s antiabortion and gun-rights stances, his false claim that the 2020 presidential election was fraudulent, and Mr. Trump’s endorsement. It also labeled him as too conservative for Maryland.

State legislative incumbents defeated

The figures below were current as of Wednesday morning. Click here for more information on defeated incumbents.

No state legislative incumbents in Maryland have lost in primaries so far. But this will likely change. With vote totals remaining incomplete, 55 House and Senate primaries featuring incumbents—38 Democratic and 17 Republican—remain uncalled. 

Across the 27 states that have held state legislative primaries so far this year, 135 incumbents, 4.8% of those running for re-election, have lost, continuing an elevated rate of incumbent primary defeats compared to recent election cycles.

Of the 27 states that have held primaries so far, eight have Democratic trifectas, 15 have Republican trifectas, and four have divided governments. Across these 27 states, there are 3,525 seats up for election, 57% of the nationwide total.

Pence, Ducey endorse for Arizona governor and secretary of state, countering Trump

In the last couple of weeks, former Vice President Mike Pence and Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey have added to their lists of endorsements countering those of former President Trump.

Pence endorsed Karrin Taylor Robson for Arizona governor. This is Pence’s fourth gubernatorial endorsement of 2022 and the second in which he has clashed with Trump. Trump backed Kari Lake for Arizona governor. Earlier this year, Pence endorsed Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp, who defeated Trump-endorsed David Perdue in the primary.

AZCentral reported that Pence is scheduled to attend events for Taylor Robson in Phoenix and elsewhere on Friday, while Trump is holding a rally for Lake that day in Prescott Valley.

As we wrote last week, Ducey also endorsed Taylor Robson. Ducey is term-limited.

Ducey recently endorsed Beau Lane for secretary of state. Lane faces Mark Finchem, whom Trump endorsed, and two others in the GOP primary.  

Ducey said, “The 2022 elections haven’t even been held yet, and already we’re seeing speculation doubting the results — especially if certain candidates lose. … It’s one of the most irresponsible things I can imagine.”

AZCentral reported

Late last month, at a campaign stop in Chandler, Finchem said he would not concede his race if there was any suggestion of wrongdoing.

“There ain’t gonna be no concession speech coming from this guy,” Finchem said. “I’m going to demand 100% hand count (of ballots) if there’s the slightest hint of any impropriety. And I would urge the next governor to do the same thing.”

Arizona’s secretary of state, Katie Hobbs (D), is running for re-election.

President Joe Biden defeated Trump 49.4% to 49.1% in Arizona in 2020. Three forecasting outlets rate the gubernatorial general election a Toss-up.

The primaries are Aug. 2.

Chambers of Commerce endorse Rep. Peter Meijer in MI-03

The U.S., Michigan, and Grand Rapids Chambers of Commerce all recently endorsed U.S. Rep. Peter Meijer for re-election in Michigan’s 3rd Congressional District. In addition, Roll Call reported that “GOP super PAC Defending Main Street launched a six-figure mail blitz supporting Meijer.”

Meijer was one of 10 Republicans who voted to impeach Trump after Jan. 6. Trump endorsed his primary challenger, John Gibbs. Gibbs said Meijer “chose to be fawned over by the media & the DC establishment instead of doing what’s right & representing those who voted for him.”

Meijer said, “I take the oath I swore to the Constitution, an oath I took under God, seriously and voted accordingly.”

Meijer was elected in 2020 and served in the Army Reserve. Trump appointed Gibbs acting assistant secretary for community planning and development in 2020 after Gibbs served as a senior advisor at the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.

The primary is Aug. 2. The winner will face Hillary Scholten (D) in the general election. Meijer defeated Scholten 53%-47% in 2020. Redistricting made the 3rd District more Democraticleaning. Three forecasters rate the general election a Toss-up.

Cheney trails Hageman in first Wyoming U.S. House primary poll

A recent Mason-Dixon poll sponsored by the Casper Star-Tribune showed Harriet Hageman leading incumbent Rep. Liz Cheney 52% to 30% in Wyoming’s GOP House primary. Eleven percent were undecided. The poll’s margin of error is +/- 3 percentage points.

Cheney was first elected in 2016. She won the 2020 GOP primary with 74% of the vote. 

Hageman founded the Wyoming Conservation Alliance and worked for Cheney’s unsuccessful 2014 U.S. Senate campaign. Hageman said she is challenging Cheney because “when she embraced Nancy Pelosi and voted for the partisan impeachment of President Donald Trump, she betrayed our nation, she betrayed Wyoming, and she betrayed me.” Earlier this month, we wrote about the candidates’ divergence on the 2020 presidential election results and the Jan. 6 investigative committee.

Cheney raised $13.1 million to Hageman’s $3.9 million through June 30.

Wyoming’s primary is on Aug. 16.

Followup: Whatley withdraws in Alabama Senate District 27

On July 1, state Sen. Tom Whatley withdrew from the race for Alabama Senate District 27, leaving Auburn City Council member Jon Hovey as the Republican nominee in November.

As we wrote previously, Whatley, the 27th District’s incumbent, had challenged the May 24 primary results, which had him trailing Hovey by one vote. The Alabama Republican Party then declared the race a tie after deciding to count a provisional ballot it previously rejected for Whatley. The party announced the race would be decided by a coin toss.

Hovey requested a rehearing after the Alabama Law Enforcement Agency (ALEA) said the voter who cast the provisional ballot in question hadn’t completed the paperwork needed to get an Alabama driver’s license and complete her voter registration. The party agreed to Hovey’s request and scheduled a meeting for July 1. Whatley withdrew before the meeting took place. 

Whatley said, “I am the Republican nominee who was voted by Republicans in my district. With that said, I now believe that it is in the best interest of my friends, colleagues, family, and the Republican Party, for me to step away from this tied race so that we can move forward and have success in November.”

Hovey said, “This has been a potentially divisive experience. But we have maintained that we would be successful by standing with integrity and running a clean campaign about me and my desire to serve.” 

Hovey will face Democrat Sherri Reese in the November general election

Competitiveness data: Michigan and Ohio

On Aug. 2, Michigan holds statewide primaries and Ohio holds state legislative primaries. We’ve crunched some numbers to see how competitive the primaries will be compared to recent election cycles.



Notes on how these figures were calculated:

  • Candidates per district: divides the total number of candidates by the number of districts holding elections.
  • Open districts: divides the number of districts without an incumbent running by the number of districts holding elections.
  • Contested primaries: divides the number of major party primaries by the number of possible primaries.
  • Incumbents in contested primaries: divides the number of incumbents in primaries by the number seeking re-election in the given election cycle.