The Washington PostDemocracy Dies in Darkness

Trump to host Mar-a-Lago fundraiser for Md. governor candidate Dan Cox

Former president’s endorsement lifted the Republican to a primary victory, but he has trailed Democrat Wes Moore significantly in fundraising

Republican Maryland gubernatorial candidate Dan Cox in Annapolis in June. (Brian Witte/AP)

Former president Donald Trump is scheduled to host a fundraiser for Maryland GOP gubernatorial nominee Dan Cox next month, according to an invitation first published by the Hill.

The $1,776-per-person event, confirmed by The Washington Post, will be held at Trump’s Mar-a-Largo estate in Florida, and it has the potential to give Cox’s campaign a much-needed financial boost. His Democratic opponent, Wes Moore, has outraised Cox 10 to 1.

Cox had just $130,000 to spend as of late August, a sum that Republican operatives say is not enough to finance a statewide mail campaign.

The fundraiser reinforcing his ties to Trump comes as Cox has tried to moderate his rhetoric, pivoting to a general election in which just 24 percent of registered voters are Republicans. Trump’s approval ratings in the deeply Democratic state stands at 32 percent, according to a Goucher College poll published this week. The same poll shows Moore with a 22-percentage-point lead over Cox, with 9 percent of voters undecided ahead of the Nov. 8 election.

Maryland voters, tell us what you want to hear from candidates for governor.

Trump’s endorsement in the primary helped lift Cox, a backbench freshman state legislator, to victory the July primary over the candidate endorsed by Gov. Larry Hogan, a term-limited Republican and political foe of both Cox and Trump.

The private Oct. 17 cocktail reception at Trump’s club is advertised as celebrating the 46th birthday of Cox’s wife, Valerie. The invitation offered a photo with Trump and Cox for donors who raise $25,000. Maryland law caps individual and business donations to political candidates at $6,000 per cycle, leaving it unclear whether the photos are reserved for bundlers.

Cox has built a campaign around opposing pandemic-related restrictions, promising to “restore freedom” to the state. Part of that platform involves increasing parental involvement in schools and restricting how public schools can teach gender and sexuality and the history of race. As a state delegate, Cox introduced 14 bills that would restrict or roll back access to abortion, and he has said he has a “transparent” record on the issue.

Moore’s platform promises he will “leave no one behind,” by investing in education, job creation, the environment and trying to solve the state’s wealth gap, among other issues. He has won the backing of the state’s Democratic establishment, the police union, the teachers union and most major environmental and labor groups.

“Election deniers stick together, and now Dan Cox is going all the way down to Florida with less than 50 days left in the election to kiss the ring,” Moore campaign spokesman Carter Elliott IV said in a statement. “These men aren’t patriots, they’re a danger to our democracy. And, Dan Cox doing everything he can to cozy up to Trump is an incredible threat to the future of Maryland.”

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