The Washington PostDemocracy Dies in Darkness

Opinion Dan Cox’s now-deleted Gab-fest shows why he’s unfit to lead Maryland

Dan Cox, a Maryland state legislator and the Republican nominee for governor of Maryland. talks to reporters in Annapolis on June 30. (Brian Witte/AP)
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Maryland state Del. Dan Cox, the Republican gubernatorial nominee, has been an active poster on Gab, one of the internet’s better-known and most nauseating cesspools of conspiracy-mongering, florid antisemitism and white supremacist hate speech. What did Mr. Cox post there? We can’t say, and Maryland voters have no way of knowing — because he recently deleted his account, along with more than 1,000 posts on the noxious site.

There’s already plenty of evidence that Mr. Cox is unfit to lead the state. Gov. Larry Hogan, a fellow Republican, has called him a “QAnon whack job,” a “nut” and, this month, mentally unstable. In April, Mr. Cox was a speaker at a rally populated by QAnon crackpots.

He recently termed the FBI’s search of former president Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago home “nothing short of communist stasi police state tactics.”

This isn’t the first time Mr. Cox has seemingly tried to erase evidence of his radical views; he deleted a tweet, posted as police were being overrun during the Jan. 6, 2021, assault on the Capitol, calling then-Vice President Mike Pence a “traitor” for refusing to block certification of Joe Biden’s 2020 election victory.

Gab, founded in 2016, is known principally as one of the most prominent online forums for hate speech so vile that it is banned on Facebook, Twitter, Reddit and elsewhere. The sources of its notoriety are plentiful; among other lowlights, Gab is where mass murderer Robert Bowers posted his antisemitic rants before he barged into a Pittsburgh synagogue and killed 11 worshipers in 2018. Neo-Nazi screeds are popular Gab fodder.

Of all the social media forums on which to post 1,000 times, Mr. Cox chose Gab. Why — and what did he have to say before he had the record erased? Marylanders deserve answers. Unfortunately, Mr. Cox generally eschews questions from the mainstream media, preferring to speak mainly to his Republican base.

As for what he does believe, or which policies he would pursue as governor, that is also shrouded in mystery. His website enumerates a few positions: he would “end unconstitutional mask, vaccine and health mandates”; “end the divisive CRT [critical race theory] and make our schools free from political or gender ideological indoctrination”; and empower law enforcement “to remove criminal illegal aliens from our communities.” He “promises to protect all life from conception” and defend gun rights.

As for the pressing issues most Marylanders care about — improving transportation infrastructure, safeguarding the Chesapeake Bay, driving down Baltimore’s homicide rate, ensuring quality schools with adequate funding — he is silent. Marylanders deserve a better choice and more transparency than Mr. Cox appears willing to provide.

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