In blue Maryland, GOP primary rivals vie to take on Democrats in winnable November races

GOP showdown in Maryland's 6th Congressional District pits local viability vs. big endorsements as Republicans attempt to oust Democratic Rep. David Trone.

Published: July 18, 2022 1:38pm

Updated: July 19, 2022 9:16am

Maryland voters head to the polls Tuesday to decide a number of hotly contested primary races, including a compelling contest playing out in the state's 6th Congressional District, where a well-connected young conservative-journalist-turned-candidate is taking establishment Democrats to task for failing to show up at work for the last two years. 

After spending months exposing Democratic lawmakers on Capitol Hill whose offices have stayed dark as inflation, crime, and government spending skyrocket, former Washington Free Beacon reporter Matthew Foldi, 25, announced that he would take on two-term incumbent Democratic Rep. David Trone, a multimillionaire self-funded candidate.

Following redistricting, the state's 6th CD went from being a district that President Joe Biden carried by 24 points to one he would have won by only 10 points, The Washington Post reported. In a midterm environment that gives Republicans the swing district advantage, the Western Maryland district is perceived to be in play, albeit still a reach for the GOP. The nonpartisan Cook Political Report has classified Maryland's 6th as a "Lean Democratic" district.

In what could be a tight race, Foldi has found ample support among national Republicans willing to lend their voices and endorsements to the candidate's cause.

Rep. Don Bacon (R-Neb.) has become one of Foldi's most vocal supporters. After offering the aspiring journalist a seat on a plane for a press trip, the two clicked, and Bacon recently touted Foldi's "high IQ" to Politico. 

Rep. Michael Waltz (R-Fla.) called the 2018 college grad a "national security expert" who will "fight for our national defense, for our veterans, and for America."

Other GOP heavyweights backing Foldi include Republican Study Committee Chairman Rep. Jim Banks (Ind.), fundraising all-star and GOP Conference Chairwoman Rep. Elise Stefanik (N.Y.), and the House Republican leader himself, Rep. Kevin McCarthy (Calif), who says Foldi's "experience as an investigate reporter will be crucial in helping our majority hold this White House accountable."

Beyond the House, Foldi has won support from a broad range of high-profile Republicans stretching from Maryland's departing, never-Trump Gov. Larry Hogan to the former president's son Don Jr. and leading Trump administration officials like former acting Director of National Intelligence Ric Grenell and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo

For all his big-name support, Foldi faces a formidable opponent in Maryland state Del. Neil Parrott, 51, who unsuccessfully ran against Trone last cycle. Parrott fought for many years for congressional maps with districts that look a little better for Republicans — including the one in which he is now running.

While Foldi has successfully courted the D.C. elite — many of whom have made names for themselves as anti-establishment figures — Parrott has been operating among the locals. Though Foldi is energetic and viral (aided in large part by his friendship with conservative Twitter virtuoso Comfortably Smug), Parrott is a politically seasoned, homegrown product with working-class appeal.

Following a recent fundraiser, Frederick County Sheriff Chuck Jenkins said he thinks Foldi comes across as "a wealthy elitist." Within the new 6th district, it's Frederick county that accounts for the conservative voting base. If Foldi fails to resonate there, his big-name endorsements will be of little avail.

Foldi told Just the News Monday that his endorsements suggest a national party rallying behind his campaign. "I'm honored that they're voting to send a proven anti-corruption fighter to Congress," he said. "Unlike our part-time Congressman, I'll fight every day to crush corruption and stop the inflation that's crushing the American Dream for far too many." 

Also on the ballot Tuesday in Maryland is Parrott's first-term state assembly colleague Daniel Cox, who is running for the GOP nomination for governor with the blessing of former President Donald Trump — as well as the Democratic establishment, which has spent upwards of $1 million pushing for an opponent they believe has no shot in the November general election.

Following the Jan. 6 Capitol breach, Parrott came to the defense of Cox, who organized buses to the Stop the Steal rally that preceded the breach. "The vast majority of people were simply there to support fair elections," said Parrott, who called it "unfortunate" that Cox faced criticism for his actions 

"They had no idea that some people were going to try to take over the rally and make it violent," he said, adding that intraparty feuding is never helpful.

Running against Cox — a Republican several lanes to the right of termed-out Gov. Hogan — is former Hogan administration Commerce Secretary Kelly Schulz, who is running as a center-right alternative to Cox's Trumpian brand. The New York Times reports that some state delegates are unmoved by Schulz's positioning, arguing she is little more than a continuation of Hogan, whose emergence as a vocal anti-Trump Republican has estranged him from many in the GOP's conservative base.

While a Hogan protege may not play well among die-hard Trumpers, Schulz is widely believed to offer Republicans their best chance to hang on to the governorship in November in a heavily Democratic state. The moderate Hogan has a 74% approval rating and was reelected with the most votes of any gubernatorial candidate in Maryland's history

In Maryland, the counting of absentee ballots is forbidden until after Election Day. Results from Tuesday's primary may, therefore, may be unavailable for up to 10 days. 

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