Above: Larry Hogan and Peter Franchot at the St. Mary’s County Veterans Day Parade. (Photo from Change Maryland Facebook page.)
Republican Larry Hogan Jr. has made outreach to Democrats a key part of his transition to becoming governor next month. The let’s-all-along style reaches a new level on Monday, when Hogan goes shopping with Democratic Comptroller Peter Franchot in Easton and Cambridge.
Patronizing local merchants and recognizing Maryland-owned business has been a major emphasis for Franchot, who collects the state’s 6% sales tax and all the dozens of other taxes Hogan railed against during the campaign.
Franchot had been a persistent scold of the tax hikes during the O’Malley administration. Hogan has a strong motive to have good relations with Franchot, who considered running for governor two years ago and is frequently mentioned as a potential contender four years from now.
As comptroller, Franchot sits next to the governor on the three-member Board of Public Works, which approves billions in state contracts and has major say in other policies.
A thorn in the governor’s side
Like other comptrollers before him, Franchot has been a frequent thorn in the side of Gov. Martin O’Malley, a fellow Democrat. Franchot’s predecessors in the office, William Donald Schaefer and Louis Goldstein, were proud of both their bark and their bite as fiscal watchdogs.
Franchot, who served 16 years in the House of Delegates as a liberal Democrat from Takoma Park, has fully embraced the comptroller’s role, sometimes to O’Malley’s obvious chagrin.
Franchot has also taken some delight in tweaking his party’s establishment and he was clearly happy about the joint shopping trip with Hogan when he mentioned it to Maryland Reporter on Wednesday, mimicking the two of them walking arm and arm down the street.
Hogan has been active in Maryland politics for over 30 years, since his father was Prince George’s County executive, and has worked with many Democrats, especially when he served as appointments secretary for Republican Gov. Bob Ehrlich.
He has already had meetings with the “two Mikes,” the legislature’s Democratic leaders, Senate President Mike Miller and House Speaker Michael Busch.
On Wednesday, Hogan had lunch with former Howard County Executive Ken Ulman, who was the Democratic nominee for lieutenant governor. Photos of the encounter were posted on Hogan’s Change Maryland Facebook page.