Democrats put their money into the campaign of a hard-right GOP gubernatorial candidate who just won his primary in Maryland

Republican voters in Maryland — a state where Trump lost 2-to-1 in the last election — have selected in this week’s primary a MAGA kook, rather than the staid, pro-business acolyte of wildly popular outgoing GOP Gov. Larry Hogan.

QAnon nut Daniel L. Cox will now run against a Democrat who will not have to work very hard to make themselves more palatable than Cox. (Final results of Democrat primary still not in.)

As a side note, Democrats spent a lot of money on a spoiler tactic of getting Republican Cox elected, in a move that brought pooh-poohing from the tennis-and-martinis set writing the Washington Post‘s house editorials:

In today’s political landscape, his fringe views are not a joke; they are a menace. Last year, he arranged three buses to convey his constituents to the Jan. 6 rally that Mr. Trump had promised would be “wild” and that became, by design, a blood-spattered insurrection. At the very moment that violent rioters stormed the Capitol, beating and injuring scores of police officers, he tweeted that Vice President Mike Pence was a “traitor” for refusing to reject the certification of the election. As a mouthpiece for the Trumpian lie that the 2020 presidential election was stolen, Mr. Cox has positioned himself squarely as an enemy of democracy.

Maryland Republicans have made their choice — for a candidate described by Mr. Trump as “100 percent MAGA.” They made it despite the availability of a stark alternative, Kelly M. Schulz, a close political ally of term-limited GOP Gov. Larry Hogan. She served in his Cabinet for nearly the entirety of his eight years in office, first as labor secretary and then, until January, as commerce secretary. In turning their backs on Ms. Schulz, primary voters spurned a pro-business pragmatist in the mold of Mr. Hogan, whose moderate Republicanism and contempt for Mr. Trump have made him one of the nation’s most popular governors. His stratospheric approval levels might easily have helped propel Ms. Schulz, whom he warmly endorsed, to the governorship. She could have been the first woman to hold the job.

By contrast, Mr. Cox moved to impeach Mr. Hogan, a governor of his own party. He got no serious support in that gesture from either party — a indication of how he is regarded by his colleagues in Annapolis.

Democrats are delighted to have Mr. Cox on the ballot, and they played a part in his win. The Democratic Governors Association spent $1.2 million on advertising and mailers designed to elevate Mr. Cox, calculating that he would be easy prey in November. That assessment is probably accurate. Nonetheless, if by some remote chance it is wrong and some unforeseeable chain of events leads to Mr. Cox moving into Government House in Annapolis, Democrats will rue their cynical action.

Democrats would be stupid not to use the tactic of trying to get a spoiler Republican candidate on the ballot in some elections where it makes sense. Republicans do it all the time. In fact, Republicans run actual straw candidates all the time in order to gum up Democratic primaries.

Not to pile on President Biden, whom I will ultimately support if he becomes the nominee. But he has long traveled in the rarefied environs of the kinds of charity events where you rub shoulders with the owners and very top echelon of the Washington Post. He belongs to an era where the right kinds of people belonged to the right kinds of clubs and sent their kids to the right kinds of schools.

Places where a sitting president might play a couple rounds of genteel golf with the executive editor of the Post and the opposition leader in the U.S. Senate, and hammer out a “gentleman’s agreement” about how to advance important legislation in ways that benefits both parties and, possibly, the American people.

Mind you, it was still all, to use the Post’s word, “cynical.” Just not overtly so. Everyone went along to get along. In public.

Times have changed, of course. The Republicans stole at least one Supreme Court seat. They regularly play the part of Lucy to the Democrats’ Charlie Brown, as the GOP keeps yanking that football at the last second, leaving the Democrats flat-footed. Cynical isn’t even their fallback position. They lead with it.

So, good for Maryland Democrats for playing politics the way they should be played in 2022.

Yes, the spoiler candidate gambit might backfire now and then, although the performative hand-wringing by the Post about it happening in Maryland’s governor’s race is silly unless the Democratic candidate, whomever that ends up being, does something truly shocking and immoral before the general election.

You can read the rest of the WaPo editorial here.

GOP primary winner Cox on primary election night.

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