The Washington PostDemocracy Dies in Darkness

Opinion Maryland’s gubernatorial primaries look close. But the choices are clear.

Maryland Democratic gubernatorial candidate Tom Perez in Silver Spring on July 7. (Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

A week before Maryland primary voters go to the polls, with each party’s leading gubernatorial candidates locked in a statistical dead heat, the political jockeying and tsunami of ads flooding the airwaves have blurred what looks to us like a clear choice on both party ballots.

On the Democratic side, Tom Perez, whose experience as a civil rights prosecutor, local and state official, top Justice Department civil rights enforcer, and former U.S. Cabinet secretary is light-years ahead of the rest of the field, has distinguished himself as the most clear-eyed, straight-talking and substantive contestant.

Among the Republicans, Kelly M. Schulz, who has served in term-limited Gov. Larry Hogan’s Cabinet as both labor secretary and commerce secretary, is a voice of moderation in a party where that has become a scarce commodity.

Mr. Perez and Ms. Schulz have run on very different platforms — his strikingly detailed, hers resolutely broad-brush. What they have in common is that each is self-evidently competent and qualified to be governor, by dint of their broad backgrounds in governance. Neither has heeded the siren song of extremism that has come to exert a tight grip on many in the GOP, and plenty in the Democratic Party as well.

The Post endorsed Mr. Perez and Ms. Schulz this spring, and the campaign has reinforced our confidence in each.

See all of The Post's endorsements in Maryland's 2022 primaries

In the sole televised debate among the crowded field of Democrats, in June, and in a radio interview featuring Mr. Perez and one of his two chief rivals this month, his agenda of concrete proposals and command of policy set him apart. His added dimension, presented with a crisp blend of detail and big-picture framing, is an ability to harness lessons he has learned from an impressive career in public service and apply them to Maryland’s most pressing problems.

On the staggering toll of homicides and gun violence that has gripped Baltimore and other parts of the state, for instance, his proposals would mobilize local, state and federal authorities to work in tighter coordination, including with the assistance of the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives; President Biden’s nominee to lead that agency once worked under Mr. Perez’s supervision in the Justice Department.

Other Democrats in the primary race, notably Wes Moore, a former nonprofit executive and Army combat veteran, have run strong races. But none, including Mr. Moore, would enter office with the knowledge and strategic savvy that Mr. Perez would possess on Day 1.

Like Mr. Perez, Ms. Schulz has projected a sense of balance along with a centrist agenda. In her case, the contrast with her main primary rival, state Del. Daniel L. Cox (Frederick), a right-wing extremist, is obvious. Mr. Cox, endorsed by former president Donald Trump, peddles the lie that the 2020 presidential election was fraudulent and wrote that Vice President Mike Pence was a traitor for not intervening to overturn the results. Ms. Schulz, who has dismissed such nonsense, has advanced a traditional conservative agenda of lower taxes and tough measures to fight crime.

Both Mr. Perez and Ms. Schulz are solid picks to lead the state.

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Editorials represent the views of The Washington Post as an institution, as determined through debate among members of the Editorial Board, based in the Opinions section and separate from the newsroom.

Members of the Editorial Board and areas of focus: Editorial Page Editor David Shipley, Deputy Editorial Page Editor Karen Tumulty; Associate Opinion Editor Stephen Stromberg (elections, the White House, Congress, legal affairs, energy, the environment, health care); Associate Editor Jonathan Capehart (national politics); Lee Hockstader (immigration; issues affecting Virginia and Maryland); David E. Hoffman (global public health); Charles Lane (foreign affairs, national security, international economics); Heather Long (economics); Associate Editor Ruth Marcus; and Molly Roberts (technology and society).