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For Maryland Republicans It's Not Who's Next, But Who's Left?
Cox's Limp Performance decimated the Republican Bench
After Ellen Sauerbrey lost the gubernatorial election in 1994, she remained the presumed nominee in 1998 if she wanted to be.
After Ellen Sauerbrey lost the gubernatorial election in 1998, Bob Ehrlich was the presumed nominee in 2002 if he wanted to be.
After Bob Ehrlich lost the gubernatorial election in 2006, he remained the presumed nominee in 2010 if he wanted to be.
After Bob Ehrlich lost the gubernatorial election in 2010, there were two presumed potential nominees: David Craig or Larry Hogan. Both ran, and Hogan of course won the nomination.
After Larry Hogan’s second term ended in 2022, there were three presumed potential nominees: Barry Glassman, Boyd Rutherford or Kelly Schulz. Glassman ran for Comptroller, Rutherford stood down, and Schulz ran for the nomination and lost.
With the way that Dan Cox’s failure as a candidate decimated the Republican bench, there is no presumptive Republican gubernatorial nominee for the first time since 1994.
The problem for Maryland Republicans is that the Trump Drag in 2018 and the Cox Drag in 2022 decimated the Republican bench, wiping out a whole slew of potential gubernatorial from public office.
As Republicans turn away from their self-inflected nightmare of 2022, who is out there that could run for Governor in 2026? Let’s take a look.
Dan Cox: In a normal world, the ass-kicking that Dan Cox received would disqualify him as a candidate for office ever again. But he won a primary once, has an ego the size of Uranus, and no sense of reality so he might run again. Considering he won the primary once, it is not outside of the realm of possibility for him to do so again.
Barry Glassman: Glassman of course did not beclown himself the way that Cox and Peroutka did in the General election. He still got caught up in Cox’s undertow and underperformed what he might have otherwise been able to do. If Glassman does not join the Moore Administration (something I think is not out of the realm of possibility as Agriculture Secretary) he would be a credible candidate.
Andy Harris: Harris is once again the highest-ranking elected Republican across the state of Maryland, having been elected to his seventh term to Congress. Harris has a clear path to the nomination if he wants to contest it, given his status as a Congressman and the fact that his wife Nicole is running for Maryland Republican Party Chair. But would the current Republican electorate be content with nominating somebody who, by then, will be a nearly thirty-year career politician? And would Harris, as the leading Trumper in the state, stand any chance at all of being elected?
Jeannie Haddaway-Riccio: It will have been twelve years since Haddaway-Riccio has been on a ballot, but she has long been presumed to be a candidate for higher office for some time. After losing in the primary as David Craig’s running mate in 2014, she served as Governor Hogan’s Deputy Chief of Staff for four years before moving over to become Secretary of Natural Resources. She would be a formidable candidate were she to run.
Danielle Hornberger: The Cecil County Executive is one of two remaining Republican County Executives left in the state. She does have a re-election campaign to get through in 2024, in a county that has never re-elected a County Executive. One of her struggles will be that Cecil County is closer to Philadelphia than it is to Baltimore putting the county out of sight and out of mind for most Marylanders.
Nic Kipke: The former House Minority Leader was recently elected to his fifth term. He has a vast Rolodex and a slew of favors to call him from his time as Minority Leader. Would he be willing to give up a safe seat in order to run statewide? Or would he be more likely, were he to give up the seat, to run for Anne Arundel County Executive instead?
Justin Ready: Ready has been one of the more successful legislators and Republican leaders bridging the gap between the Trump Wing and the Hogan Wing of the Party. He has a vast network of national connections, and the experience as a campaigner to maximize any opportunity to run. He also has the conservative bonafides to make the base happy, and a competent record of success that plays well in a General Election.
Gordana Schifanelli: It’s absurd to think about her running for Governor based on her track record as a candidate. But people don’t run for Maryland State Party Chairman for no reason.
Whoever is the Republican nominee in 2026, they will have a low bar the clear compared the trainwreck that was Cox’s 2022 campaign.