Maryland state delegate Dan Cox, who was endorsed by former president Donald Trump, handily won the state's Republican gubernatorial primary on Tuesday. Cox's opponent was Kelly Shulz, the former Maryland commerce secretary who had the backing of her old boss, Governor Larry Hogan.

Cox's victory confirms that despite Hogan's overall popularity — he has one of the highest gubernatorial approval ratings in the country — Republicans are no longer impressed by him. In fact, Hogan now polls better among Democrats than members of his own party.

Why? Because for conservatives in Maryland, Hogan's two terms as governor...

Maryland state delegate Dan Cox, who was endorsed by former president Donald Trump, handily won the state’s Republican gubernatorial primary on Tuesday. Cox’s opponent was Kelly Shulz, the former Maryland commerce secretary who had the backing of her old boss, Governor Larry Hogan.

Cox’s victory confirms that despite Hogan’s overall popularity — he has one of the highest gubernatorial approval ratings in the country — Republicans are no longer impressed by him. In fact, Hogan now polls better among Democrats than members of his own party.

Why? Because for conservatives in Maryland, Hogan’s two terms as governor were largely a betrayal. It’s important to understand that although Maryland is a blue state because of Baltimore and the DC suburbs, the conservatives concentrated in its rural counties are pretty hardcore. Take a drive through Frederick or Garrett County sometime and you’ll be greeted with plenty of signs proclaiming “Trump 2024,” “Trump Won,” “Let’s Go Brandon” and, of course, “Fuck Joe Biden.” It’s worth noting that Dan Cox lives in Frederick County, not far from where I grew up. A lot of these people worked hard to help get Hogan elected in 2014 and were thrilled that a Republican had finally won the governorship. Now they feel they didn’t get much of a return on their investment.

Hogan’s primary accomplishments for conservatives in Maryland were to lower taxes and tolls, including eliminating the dreaded “rain tax,” and making Maryland a more business-friendly state in order to attract jobs. However, his spat with former president Donald Trump and protest vote for Ronald Reagan in the 2020 election revealed the shortsightedness of his “moderate” approach to governance. Any relief felt by Marylanders from Hogan’s tax cuts has been quickly wiped out by the historic levels of inflation under Joe Biden. Hogan was too worried about Trump’s mean tweets to foresee that the former president’s opponent might do much, much worse.

Then there was Hogan’s approach to the pandemic. Hogan issued statewide lockdowns and implemented a mask mandate until May 2021, right along with Virginia Democratic governor Ralph Northam. He did not instruct public schools to return to in-person learning until March 2021, nearly a full school year after Florida had done so, and did not ask schools to lift their mask mandates until just this past February. He required Covid vaccines for healthcare workers, snarked that Marylanders should “just get the damn vaccine” and urged public health officials to expedite approval of the vaccine for children as young as five. His strict measures earned him the moniker “Shutdown RINO” from Trump, and for good reason. The same Marylanders who supported Hogan had their lives ravaged by his lockdowns.

Given all of this, it’s not that surprising that a Trump endorsement would matter more to Maryland conservatives than who the governor handpicked as his successor. Cox ended up winning the primary with 56 percent to Shulz’s 40 percent.

The difficulty with Cox’s nomination is that he will presumably have a tough time winning a general election in blue Maryland. Conservatives risk making the same mistake that Hogan did when he refused to swallow his pride and vote for Trump to save us from the alternative. Schulz doesn’t excite, but she is probably more electable statewide and could at least keep out a Democrat. That being said, as a Marylander for my first twenty-two years of life, I understand the anger toward Hogan and his lackeys and will be rooting for Cox.