With Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan term-limited, the highly competitive contest to replace him has drawn the attention of former President Donald Trump, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and even Oprah Winfrey, the Associated Press reports. As voters on Tuesday choose nominees in statewide, legislative and congressional races, the pivotal governor’s race takes top billing. Hogan, a rare two-term Republican governor in a Democratic-leaning state, won plaudits from both sides of the aisle for his bipartisan approach and his willingness to challenge Trump. His legacy on the line, Hogan has endorsed Kelly Schulz in the Republican gubernatorial primary. Schulz, who served as labor and commerce secretaries in Hogan’s administration, faces a challenge from Dan Cox, a Trump-backed state legislator who sued Hogan over his pandemic policies and later sought unsuccessfully to impeach him.
On the Democratic side, Tom Perez, a former U.S. labor secretary and former Democratic Party chair, has the backing of Pelosi, a native daughter of Baltimore, while bestselling author Wes Moore has clinched the support of Winfrey and U.S. Rep. Steny Hoyer, the No. 2 House Democrat. Other top candidates include Comptroller Peter Franchot, former Attorney General Doug Gansler and former U.S. Education Secretary John B. King Jr. The big-name endorsements that have rolled into Maryland’s primary elections for governor illustrate the high stakes for both parties. Democrats see the contest as one of their best chances nationwide to flip a governor’s mansion in this year’s midterm elections, while Republicans want to cement the party’s hold on the office. The Republican primary provides a potential 2024 preview of the appeal of candidates in the mold of Hogan and Trump, who offer competing visions for the future of the party.