Cox, who is one of the most outspoken conservative members of the Maryland General Assembly, has fought against certifying the results of the 2020 presidential election, sued Gov. Larry Hogan (R) to challenge his stay-at-home orders during the pandemic, and represented a Harford County man who sued local officials for arresting him at a polling place for not wearing a mask. He also called Vice President Mike Pence “a traitor” on Twitter for not overturning the results of the election, as rioters stormed the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6. Hogan has called Cox a “QAnon conspiracy theorist,” a reference to the extremist ideology.
Cox did not respond to a request for comment Tuesday.
The support from Harris, the state’s only Republican congressman, signals that Cox is moving toward solidifying his candidacy — potentially leading to the state Republican Party dealing with the same divisions that have played out nationally between the party’s establishment members and Trump supporters.
“All of this is the potential entrance of Cox onto the radar screen of the Trump world,” said Todd Eberly, a political science professor at St. Mary’s College of Maryland. “That is what boosts his campaign. And it presents the possibility of the Republican Party in Maryland with having a primary between the Hogan wing and Trump wing of the party, and that would be an incredibly divisive primary.”
Cox is one of three candidates vying for the Republican nomination. The others are Kelly M. Schulz, the state’s commerce secretary, and former state lawmaker and perennial candidate Robin Ficker. Former lieutenant governor Michael Steele is weighing a run.
In his speech, Harris talked about the Bill of Rights as being “trampled on at the federal level and to some extent at the state level,” arguing that the pandemic shutdown was a sign of “a state that has wandered very far from its constitutional principles.”
He told the crowd that freedoms and liberties are being taken away and that they needed to “wake up and wake up fellow Marylanders to what is going on” and elect candidates such as Cox.
Last week, Cox received support from Doug Mastriano, a conservative Pennsylvania lawmaker and staunch Trump supporter. Mastriano, a possible gubernatorial candidate who has repeated false claims of widespread fraud in the 2020 presidential election, tried to initiate a review of the election results in Pennsylvania.