Larry Hogan Hits The Road

Campaigning for the U.S. Senate, former Republican Gov. Larry Hogan wrapped up his 10-day bus tour across Maryland on Sunday, starting with a stop at Manor Hill Brewing in Howard County, his 102nd stop and the 10th local brewery on the tour.

Marylanders were surprised when the two-term governor filed two months ago for an office he repeatedly said he didn’t want and a job the wealthy real estate developer said he didn’t need.

“I was surprised, too,” Hogan laughed. He said that on the day he filed, his brother texted him, “Is this true?”

Hogan pursued a bunch of political options when he left office last year, including a run for president. But a New York Times article described the crucial weeks in January that finally persuaded him to run for the Senate seat being left by Democrat Ben Cardin.

The announcement upended the race for what had presumably been a safe Democratic seat for the winner of the primary between two Democrats, Prince George’s County Executive Angela Alsobrooks and U.S. Rep. David Trone.

Early polls show Hogan beating both by slim margins.

Sending a message

The T-shirts on Hogan’s staff on Sunday said: “Send a message to Washington.” What’s the message?

“I’m like 70% of the people in America,” Hogan replied. “I’m completely fed up with politics as usual. I think I’m fed up with the divisiveness and dysfunction,  gridlock and the angry, partisan name-calling and the fact that nobody ever really seems to want to get anything done, which is what I’m all about. Like what we’ve done in the past 10 years here in Maryland. I think that they could use a different voice. ..  you can reach across the aisle and find common ground for the common good.”

Many Democratic voters helped elect Hogan as a conservative balance to the liberal legislature, but now they are concerned that Hogan would help flip the U.S. Senate Republican, even as a well-known anti-Trump Republican.

“I’ve heard that from the media and from the DNC and the two candidates” but after 10 days on the road in “counties all across the state, I haven’t heard it at all. What I hear is ‘Thank you for running… You’re exactly what Washington needs…. I’m a lifelong Democrat, but I’m fed up with both parties… I think you’re the kind of guy that will go down there and make a difference.’ ”

That’s a bigger difference Hogan said he can make than “a freshman Democrat in the  minority, which they likely will be,” because Democrats are defending 10 Democratic Senate seats in 10 states that are red or purple.

“I can have a really big influence in the [GOP] caucus and also in trying to forge bipartisan compromise, which I did on the infrastructure bill that just got passed and which I did for eight years with a 70% Democratic legislature.”

Would you be the Joe Manchin (West Virginia’s independent Democrat) on the Republican side?

“A lot of people think so. I think I’ll be a maverick and more along the lines of Joe Manchin or John McCain… I’m willing to stand up to the current president, the former president, to my party or the other party. And I think everybody knows that. They know me pretty well after two terms of service.”