Dan Rodricks

Dan Rodricks: Last call for martinis and for trying to understand Trump-era Republicans | COMMENTARY

Democratic gubernatorial candidate Wes Moore, with his family, declares victory over Republican opponent Dan Cox on Election Night 2022.

With the come-and-gone of Election 2022, I hereby swear off two things — drinking martinis and trying to understand Trump Republicans. Both things harm brain function, and, at this stage of life, I can’t afford additional impairment.

So it’s last call. But, before moving on, I’d like one final sip.


More than half a million Maryland voters preferred Dan Cox to Wes Moore for our next governor. Please help me understand that. Was it Cox’s one unremarkable term in the House of Delegates that convinced you? (Maybe you prefer legislators who do as little as possible — you know, like Andy Harris.) Was it Cox’s embrace of Donald Trump’s big lie about the 2020 election? Like millions of Republican voters, you don’t think that denying the results of a presidential election disqualifies someone from holding office. You might even think it’s a plus.

Tell me you voted for Cox because, during the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol, he tweeted that Vice President Mike Pence was a “traitor.” Or did you appreciate his attempt to impeach Gov. Larry Hogan because Hogan imposed some restrictions to save lives during the pandemic?


Maybe you didn’t care to be part of Maryland history and say you voted for the state’s first Black governor. Maybe that sort of thing wasn’t important to you.

In the last two elections, a significant number of Democrats crossed party lines to vote for Hogan. But Maryland Republicans, vastly outnumbered, must feel a need to vote the party line, no matter how bad the candidate. (That’s the only possible explanation for Pat McDonough’s 82,000-plus votes for Baltimore County executive.) So maybe half a million Marylanders voted for Cox simply because he’s a Republican and not one of those evil Democrats who want older Americans to keep their Medicare, want more low-income families to have health insurance and want the nation to accelerate its efforts on climate change. Democrats even think women should have the right to decide what happens to their bodies.

Electing veterans

Also noted: Republicans, who historically claimed the high ground of patriotism and support for the military, opted for Cox over Wes Moore, an Army veteran who served in combat in Afghanistan. I thought that might sway a couple of you — and send some votes to Democrat Anthony Brown, another veteran, for Attorney General — but, as stated, I’ve made my final attempt to understand the thinking of Trump Republicans. It gives a guy a headache.

Moore’s star quality

Moore has a bright smile and a big, positive personality. He’s also full of ideas, seems informed about many issues and conversant in most. It’s not surprising that, right after one of Moore’s national television appearances Thursday, I got a text message from an old friend in New York: “Watching your governor-elect on MSNBC. Very impressive.” Moore will attract a lot of media attention. Let it not be a distraction from his new job.

Harris Unlimited

Rep. Andy Harris has won a seventh term in Congress, though the Freedom Caucus Republican once pledged to only serve six. Apparently, breaking that promise was not disqualifying. Harris picked up more than 120,000 votes, and I bet — just a wild guess here — that most of those who voted for him would also support term limits.


A pal for Andy?

The outcome of the 6th District congressional election, between incumbent Democrat David Trone and Washington County Republican Neil Parrott, will be decided by the count of mail-in ballots. Parrot leads for now and if, against odds, he flips the district, Maryland would have not only one extreme conservative in Congress, but two. Harris, who voted against certifying President Joe Biden’s electoral victory and against honoring the police officers who defended the Capitol on Jan. 6, would have a fellow traveler after 12 years as the lone Maryland Republican in the House. Blue Maryland would have two bright red Trumpified, election-doubting/denying, anti-abortion Republicans among its eight representatives. What a charming prospect.

The power of O

One of the lessons from Dr. Oz’s loss to John Fetterman in the Senate race in Pennsylvania: Never underestimate the influence of Oprah Winfrey. Her Fetterman endorsement was huge.

Frosh versus predator

Perhaps overlooked because of election news was the Maryland Attorney General’s successful prosecution this week of three Maryland men engaged in the predatory practice of buying settlements from the poor victims of lead paint poisoning, including the late Freddie Gray, for just pennies on the dollar. Baltimore Circuit Judge Philip S. Jackson found the men guilty of theft; sentencing will be in March. The AG’s staff has been working on this, as both a civil and criminal matter, since early in Brian Frosh’s time as attorney general. Cases such as this must be why Frosh, who will be succeeded by Brown in January, called his two terms as AG “the most rewarding, fulfilling and productive experience of my professional life.”


Love for Oregon Ridge

The following information is provided as a public service because it’s widely believed that the best time to tell the public about a public hearing is before it occurs: If you enjoy visiting and hiking through Oregon Ridge Park in Baltimore County, take note that development of a new, 20-year master plan for the park continues with a hearing scheduled for this Saturday in the park’s nature center from 1 to 3 p.m. More on this in my Sunday column.