Republican candidate for governor Dan Cox called Democrat Wes Moore on Wednesday to concede defeat in the Maryland election.

In a statement posted on social media, Cox said he called Moore “to sincerely wish him well in his constitutional service.”

Moore soundly defeated Cox in early unofficial returns, and the Associated Press called the race for Moore shortly after polls closed at 8 p.m. Tuesday. Moore celebrated victory with his supporters, but Cox did not concede defeat on Tuesday night.

“While we always felt it might be a close race, the outcome was a complete surprise,” Cox said in his statement Wednesday. He said “internal data” indicated “a massive shift of swing voters our way” and strong Republican turnout, but neither materialized.

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Moore’s victory is lopsided — currently 60% to 37% as ballots are still counted — and in keeping with the findings of three independent polls this fall. Cox and his supporters, however, discounted polling and told supporters on Tuesday not to believe polls or anyone who declared Moore the winner.

“The governor-elect and Del. Cox had a call that was very gracious and kind,” Moore spokesman Brian Jones said. The two connected over the U.S. Army’s 82nd Airborne Division, where Moore once served and one of Cox’s sons currently serves, Jones said.

Even with such a clear and expected victory for Moore, it wasn’t clear that Cox would concede defeat. He has advocated conspiracy theories that claim that President Joe Biden wasn’t rightfully elected in 2020.

And on the campaign trail — including in a televised debate — Cox was repeatedly asked about whether he would respect this election’s results and he never affirmatively said that he would. By the end of the campaign, Cox said he couldn’t commit to respecting the results until he knew what they would be.

When Moore was asked Tuesday night if he was anticipating a congratulatory call from Cox, he said would be glad to speak with him. But he said that he wouldn’t wait for a concession call before getting to work on his transition.

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Cox said in his statement that he wished Moore and running mate Aruna Miller “every blessing and success to ensure that he will keep his word and govern positively for all Marylanders.”

But much of his statement focused on his own campaign, describing what he thought was a “substantial and serious movement for freedom and the constitutional order.”

Cox took a parting shot at outgoing Republican Gov. Larry Hogan for not supporting him in the general election. He also revived complaints about Hogan’s health restrictions in the early months of the coronavirus pandemic in 2020.

“Governor Hogan’s disrespect of the people of Maryland in his own party will go down in history as disqualifying him from any future office as a Republican,” Cox wrote. “The Republican majority believes firmly in freedom and never in the lunacy of lockdowns which Larry hogan forced upon us, along with seeking possession of our children’s bodies for experimental vaccines by international big pharma.”

Hogan, for his part, has repeatedly said that Cox is a “QAnon whack job” who is unfit to serve in government.

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