Republican primary for Governor likely a two-way race
Maryland’s Republican gubernatorial primary is coming down to a race between a former member of Gov. Larry Hogan’s cabinet and a pro-Trump freshman delegate who introduced a resolution in the last General Assembly session to impeach Hogan over his handling of the COVID pandemic.
Republican leaders say Kelly Schulz, who served seven years as Hogan’s secretaries of Labor and Commerce, is the candidate from their party who has the best chance of winning in November in this state where Democrats hold a two to one voter registration edge.
And Patrick Marnell of the Southern Anne Arundel Chamber of Commerce, who met Schulz as she worked the crowd at the Smokin on the Creek BBQ Throwdown in a marina near the southern tip of Anne Arundel County, agrees.
“I’m feeling pretty confident. Yeah,” he said. “I like the platform. So yeah, I'm feeling pretty good about it.”
He called her “very personable” and “a good person.”
In a recent poll by the Baltimore Sun and the University of Baltimore, Schulz holds a six-point lead, 27% to 21%, over Dan Cox, a Frederick County delegate who touts his endorsement by former President Donald Trump. Two others in the GOP race, Robin Ficker, a perennial candidate from Montgomery County, and Joe Werner, a local lawyer, trail far behind at only 5% and 4% respectively according to that same poll.
Cox, who failed to respond to repeated requests for an interview, pictures Schulz on his web site wearing a face mask and accuses her of parroting Hogan’s “wear the damn mask” line. He also criticizes her for not supporting Trump. He appeared in April at a conference in Pennsylvania of a far-right Christian group called “Patriots Arise for God and Country.”
Del. Jason Buckel, the House minority leader, says that won’t cut it in Maryland.
“We're not South Carolina. We're not Idaho,” he said. “We don't have a predominantly Republican or sort of farther right-wing electorate.”
Buckel calls himself a very conservative Republican, but he says he understands you have to appeal to voters from one end of the state to the other and be competitive in the counties along the I-95 corridor to win the governor’s race.
“Does Dan have the ability to do that with some of the positions that he's taken, some of the issues that he tends to bring to the forefront,” Buckle asked. “I think that's, that's very, very debatable.”
Schulz says she’s not a political pundit, but she’s seen polls that agree with Buckel’s assessment.”
She says her appeal comes from being part of the Hogan administration, which “has been very successful…over the last seven and a half years,” and her ability “to continue to move the state of Maryland forward.”
The ads on her website appear to be aimed more at Democrats and the general election than the primary. In one she talks about rising inflation and the difficulties of making ends meet.
“It's unbelievable that with all of this going on, there are actually people running for governor proposing billions of dollars in tax hikes, and new government spending,” she says..
Schulz concedes none of the Democrats have proposed new taxes, but says they are proposing new programs that would result in new taxes; Peter Franchot, for example.
“He's proposing a state bank, which is a very costly initiative for all Marylanders,” she insists. “And you don't hear about the Democrats talking about any tax decreases at all.”
Jordan Bellamy, a spokeswoman for the Franchot campaign, says he is not proposing a bank, but a program that would make the state a guarantor of mortgages in certain communities to redress the wrongs of redlining, the banking practice that discriminated against people of color.
Franchot, the state comptroller, holds the lead among Democrats in that Baltimore Sun, UB poll and could be Schulz’s opponent in November should they both hold on to win their primaries.