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Maryland GOP governor nominee Dan Cox declines to say if he'll accept election results

Cox is challenging Elections Board's move to count mail-in ballots before Election Day. Democrat Wes Moore campaign says Cox "just isn't all that into... democracy."

ROCKVILLE, Md. — Maryland's Republican candidate for governor is taking a page from Donald Trump. Dan Cox is refusing to say if he'll accept the results of the election in November.

Cox spoke to reporters after a Montgomery County Circuit Court hearing Tuesday in which his lawyers opposed a move by the state elections board to start counting mail-in ballots before Election Day.

Maryland's Elections Board says it's been swamped by requests for mail-in ballots. More than half a million requests so far, with many more expected. The board calls it an emergency and asked a judge to intervene.

Daniel Cobrin, an assistant attorney general representing the board, told a judge that if it can't start counting those ballots until two days after the Nov. 8 election, we may not know the final results for months.

When asked why it would be in anyone's interest to have to wait until Christmas or New Year's for the election results, Cox said the legislature knew counting could be a problem and failed to override Gov. Hogan's veto of a bill that would have allowed counting to start early.

Gov. Hogan suggested the measure passed by the General Assembly did not include enough security measures. His veto came after the legislature had recessed, so it was unable to consider an override. Cobrin said it would have required a special session, and he says only the governor can call the legislature back for all but budget issues. 

Hogan has called his own party's nominee to replace him, "a QAnon whack job."

After July's primary, it took a month and a half to tally some results. The general election could take even longer.

Reporters had tough questions for Cox at a testy news conference. When asked repeatedly if he'd accept the election results, Cox said: "The answer to that is clear: Will the process now follow the constitutional approach to allow for confidence in that election? That's the issue at stake today." 

When asked if he was saying, "Not necessarily," Cox said, "I'm not going to speculate."

A spokesman for Democratic nominee Wes Moore responded, "Cox just isn't all that into... free and fair elections. He started with denying the 2020 election, then escalated to busing folks to the Capitol on January 6th."

Wes Moore campaign spokesman Carter Elliott, IV responded in an emailed statement: 

"At some point, we have to be honest about the fact that Dan Cox just isn't all that into the foundation of American democracy - fair and free elections. He started with denying the 2020 election, then escalated to busing folks to the Capitol on January 6th, and now he’s attempting to directly affect Maryland’s elections by slowing down our electoral process. These attacks are not only dangerous to Maryland but to our democracy as a whole."

Cox's lawyer Ed Hartman told Judge James Bonifant that the legislature knew counting could be a problem and that the situation was the "opposite" of an electoral emergency that would require the kind of change the elections board is requesting.

Cox says it's beyond the power of a judge to allow early counting. He says it's up to the legislature.

But Judge Bonifant asked several questions that sounded sympathetic to the election board. He's expected to rule on Friday.

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