The GOP Just Nominated a ‘QAnon Whackjob’ and a ‘True Confederate’ in Maryland

A guy who tried to impeach Maryland’s GOP governor was just nominated to replace him—and he’s not even the most extreme candidate who won on Tuesday.
Cameron Joseph
Washington, US
Dan Cox, a candidate for the Republican gubernatorial nomination, greets supporters during a primary election night event on July 19, 2022 in Emmitsburg, Maryland. (Nathan Howard/Getty Images)

A man who organized buses to Washington on Jan. 6, tweeted during the Capitol riot that Vice President Mike Pence was a “traitor,” tried to impeach Maryland Republican Gov. Larry Hogan over his actions to stem COVID-19, and spoke at a QAnon conference this spring, just won the Republican nomination for Maryland governor.


And he’s not even the most extreme candidate Maryland Republicans nominated for statewide office on Tuesday.

Maryland state Del. Dan Cox won the GOP gubernatorial primary Tuesday night, buoyed by an endorsement from former President Donald Trump and big spending by Democrats. And his coattails helped his friend and ally Michael Peroutka—a Christian nationalist and former board member of the neo-Confederate, secessionist League of the South whose extreme views are almost too numerous to enumerate—win the GOP’s nomination for attorney general. 

Their wins show how radicalized and conspiracy theory-minded a significant segment of the Republican base has grown in response to COVID and Trump’s lies about the 2020 election—even in a Democratic-leaning state like Maryland.

The Associated Press has called both races. Peroutka led his race by 58 percent to 42 percent with an estimated 78 percent of ballots counted, while Cox led his primary by 56 percent to 40 percent with an estimated 80 percent of ballots counted in that race as of Wednesday morning. Those margins may narrow, as mail-in ballots won’t be counted until Thursday, but the AP assessed that there aren’t enough outstanding ballots to make up the difference.

Cox’s win comes after a vocal endorsement from Trump, whose long-running feud with Hogan helped sink Hogan’s handpicked successor, former Maryland Commerce Secretary Kelly Schulz, in the primary. Cox also benefited from millions in campaign ads from Democrats highlighting his ties to Trump in a successful bid to help him win the primary so they’d face a significantly less electable candidate in the general election.


Peroutka has repeatedly said he believes public education is a communist plot, and during his campaign argued that Maryland laws protecting both gay marriage and abortion are illegal and unconstitutional because they violate “God’s law.” He called the Confederate song “Dixie” the “national anthem,” and is a former board member  of the League of the South, an neo-Confederate organization whose explicit aim is for the South to leave the U.S. and form its own country. That organization is best known for helping to organize the 2017 Charlottesville “Unite the Right” white supremacist rally that turned violent, a few years after Peroutka left the group.

Peroutka doesn’t like the term “neo-Confederate”—but it’s the “neo” part he takes issue with. In 2014, he called the term a “code word” that’s “meant to stir up hatred against us.”

“If anything, I want to be just a true Confederate,” Peroutka said, according to Right Wing Watch.

Neither candidate has a real shot of winning the general election in Democratic-leaning Maryland.

Hogan called Cox a “QAnon whackjob” last November, one of the nicer things he’s had to say about Cox during the campaign. (Cox has tweeted using the hashtag #WWG1WGA, a reference to the QAnon slogan “where we go one, we go all.”)

“Neither of these guys has a shot in hell winning the general election in Maryland. It’s mathematically impossible,” Schulz and Hogan adviser Doug Mayer recently told VICE News.

And it’s not even clear that their GOP primary opponents will endorse them. Schulz hasn’t said what she’ll do, while Hogan’s team said Wednesday morning that he wouldn’t vote for Cox. Jim Shalleck, the establishment-leaning candidate Peroutka defeated on Tuesday, recently told VICE News that he wasn’t sure who he’d vote for this November.

“That’s a very tough decision for me to make knowing what his history is,” Shalleck said. “His background concerns me very much.”

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