Hogan for Maryland

Hogan’s a hero: The Senate candidate gives long-suffering Maryland Republicans a chance

By Tevi Troy
Washington Examiner
June 7, 2024
Read the full article here.

Maryland Republicans did something unusual recently. In nominating former Republican Gov. Larry Hogan for the Senate, they selected a candidate for federal office with a chance to win. Maryland, a liberal state with a large population of government employees, has not voted for a Republican for president since 1988. And Maryland has not had a GOP senator since the liberal Republican Charles Mathias retired in 1987.

For long-suffering Maryland Republicans like me, having Hogan as a candidate is like having your hard-luck sports team contend for a championship. In my two decades in Maryland, I’ve seen the great wheel of time turn. My children have gone through school. I have buried my parents. I’ve even seen the 17-year cycles of the cicadas twice. Yet in these 20-plus years in Maryland, I have never before had an opportunity to vote for a candidate for federal office who has had any chance to win in Maryland. Until now.

This sorry record is why I’m so excited about the prospect of Gov. Larry Hogan becoming Sen. Larry Hogan. Hogan is not just a Republican but is a Ronald Reagan Republican. He served as an alternate delegate for the “Gipper” in 1976 and considers Reagan his political hero. He even voted for the late Reagan as a write-in candidate on his 2020 presidential ballot. Hogan is also a Trump critic, which should help him in a state where Biden is likely to win by 20 to 30 points in November.  

Hogan’s biggest advantage is his standing in Maryland. He had a remarkable 77% favorability rating toward the end of his tenure as governor. One GOP operative who is an expert in Senate races, and who previously tried to get Hogan to run, said that “Hogan was the most popular politician I’ve ever seen polled.” He added that Hogan has a rare reverse gender gap: Women like him more than men. Hogan proved as governor that he could handle a crisis, leading Maryland through COVID-19 and the 2015 Freddie Gray riots in Baltimore. He earned points through his dignified handling of his bout with non-Hodgkin lymphoma in 2015, which left him bald but also gave him a relatable, anti-charisma charm. He’s also a ferocious campaigner, and as the GOP operative told me, “Good candidates win tough races.”

It will indeed be tough, though. Democratic pollster Mark Mellman said Maryland’s history shows that Hogan is facing an uphill battle. According to Mellman, “[Sen. Ben] Cardin won his last election by 35 points, Van Hollen by 32, Biden by 33, and Democrats won the statewide vote for U.S. House by 30 points. Those are very consistent and very large margins in federal elections.” On the other hand, Alsobrooks has never run statewide, which means that her inexperience could be a factor against the battle-tested Hogan.

Hogan may have another advantage as well, one that is harder to gauge. Republican Marylanders like me, who never get to support a Senate candidate with a chance, may show up in higher-than-usual numbers for the rare opportunity to vote for a possible winner.

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