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Eight Democrats and four Republicans vying for their parties’ gubernatorial nomination gathered for an early morning virtual debate Wednesday.

With the Democrats fresh off their first televised debate on Maryland Public Television Monday night, Wednesday’s two-hour event hosted by Bethesda Magazine offered a rare chance to hear from all four Republican gubernatorial candidates.

Frederick County Del. Dan Cox, who has been endorsed by former President Donald Trump, echoed many of his talking points, including criticism of COVID vaccines while saying the overall goal of his campaign is to return freedom to Marylanders.

“We are going to make sure that the jabs for jobs is never again done in our state; We’re going to make sure there’s no vaccine passport; we’re going to ban the competition of those born as males who are competing against our girls in high school sports,” Cox promised.

Kelly Schulz, who served as the secretary of Labor and Commerce in Gov. Larry Hogan’s administration said her campaign is about expanding opportunities for everyone.

“We care about safe communities, we care about a steady educational system, and we care about prosperity,” Schulz said.

A self-described lifelong Montgomery County resident, perennial candidate Robin Ficker emphasized his commitment to ensuring the county is adequately represented in Annapolis.

“I will make sure that Montgomery County has someone standing up for it and not looking at Montgomery county as an ATM which these candidates from other jurisdictions inevitably do,” he said.

Ficker, who was disbarred by the Maryland Court of Appeals in March, repeatedly attacked Schulz’s record as commerce secretary.

“Furthermore, if we were able to have Miss Schulz’s agency was able to attract Intel to Maryland, which is building $20 billion projects in both Arizona and Ohio, we would have thousands of well-paying jobs in Baltimore or some other area,” he said.

Read more (and listen) at WYPR.