Incoming results from Tuesday’s primary elections in Maryland indicate Del. Dan Cox, backed by former President Donald Trump, as the GOP winner. Results from the Democratic primary are still pending, although author and army veteran Wes Moore holds a lead over other frontrunners Tom Perez and Peter Franchot. Cox and Moore have expressed vastly different approaches to health policy, influencing divided views among Maryland voters.
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A poll from Goucher College surveyed 501 Democratic and 508 Republican Maryland voters last month on their political candidate preferences, as well as a variety of policy issues. The poll results were released June 28, 1 month before primary election night.
Survey respondents were asked about several health-related policy issues. When asked about the COVID-19 pandemic, 93% of Democrats said it was either a major or minor concern, compared to 54% of Republicans. The pandemic was not a concern for 7% of Democrats and 45% of Republicans.
Moore and Cox have expressed vastly different views on how to address the pandemic.
Moore outlined a plan in May 2022 to prioritize communities affected by the pandemic by investing in public health infrastructure, as well as supporting health care providers and researchers. In a section of the plan dedicated to COVID response, Moore said:
“The Moore-Miller administration will work to strengthen the infrastructure of our state and local governments so that we can support the people whose health has been dramatically impacted by this disease and develop the resources needed to ensure that we can more efficiently respond to future pandemic challenges.”
Cox has been an outspoken critic of Hogan’s COVID response policies, and introduced a bill during the 2021 legislative session that, had it passed, would limit the governor’s ability to declare and enforce a state of emergency.
“The Consent of the Governed Act is not submitted to establish what emergency policy should be pursued during COVID-19 or any other emergency,” Cox said when introducing the bill at a committee meeting in October 2021. “It is instead to reestablish and reassert that we are in fact a democracy with the framework of a constitutional republic.”
The survey also asked respondents about their views on abortion, prior to the overturning of Roe v. Wade. When asked if abortion should be legal, 60% of Democratic voters agreed it should be legal under any circumstances, with 28% saying it should be legal only under certain circumstances. In comparison, 18% of Republican voters said abortion should be legal under any circumstances, with 57% saying it should be legal only under certain circumstances. Five percent of Democratic voters and 15% of Republican voters said abortion should be illegal in all circumstances.
When asked how the abortion issue would affect their vote, 30% of Democrats and 16% of Republicans said they would only vote for candidates who share their view on abortions. About 44% of Democrats and 45% of Republicans said the candidate’s views on abortion would partially affect their vote, while 16% of Democrats and 30% of Republicans said abortion would not be a significant factor in their vote.
Cox’s campaign position includes “defending the right to life,” and the Delegate previously spoke out against the Abortion Care Access Act, which passed the state legislature during the 2022 session. The bill requires the governor to provide funding for the training of health professionals to provide abortion care.
“[Abortion] is a decision larger than ourselves … this decision is about a baby, a life,” he said at a House Floor debate in March 2022. “… When the bodily integrity of every baby that is a little boy or little girl, is being ripped apart in the mother’s womb, yet we’re going to pay for that with taxpayer dollars with this bill? We need to make sure this is a red vote.”
Moore’s campaign states he would work to place abortion rights in Maryland’s Constitution, he’d seek to ensure funding for abortion resources, and he’d pursue measures to reduce maternal mortality, especially among Black and Brown women.
“As governor, I will fight to defend every Marylander’s right to access safe and legal abortions – including by working to pass a constitutional amendment – and oppose any efforts to restrict access to reproductive health care in Maryland,” Moore said in a statement. “Our responsibility to fiercely protect and defend the right to an abortion could not be more urgent. The Moore-Miller administration will always stand firmly in support of reproductive freedoms. Abortion is health care.”