January 18, 2015

Rascovar: Hogan’s Heroes arrive

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Moving vans outside Government House, the governor's residence, as the O'Malleys leave.

Moving vans outside Government House, the governor's residence, as the O'Malleys leave.

Photo above: Moving vans were parked all last week in front of Government House, the governor’s residence, moving out the O’Malley family.

By Barry Rascovar

For MarylandReporter.com

The Changing of the Guard takes place in Annapolis this week: There will be a sharp course correction with the arrival of Hogan’s Heroes.

On Wednesday, Republican Larry Hogan Jr. takes the oath of office as governor, followed by the departure of former Democratic Gov. Martin O’Malley as he starts his quixotic quest for the highest office in the land.

On Thursday, Gov. Hogan unveils his sharply reduced budget, which will be a shock to the system of Maryland Democrats. Thus, the Hogan era begins.

Democratic interest groups will have to learn some new tricks. The old way of bludgeoning a Democratic governor and Democratic legislature into submission won’t work.

Outdated lobbying methods

Massing hundreds, or thousands, of protesters on the State House steps used to do the trick when O’Malley was in power.

Hogan, though, could care less if the teachers union or the state workers union or the construction unions fill Lawyers’ Mall to overflowing or flood his office with form-letter emails.

Simply demanding more pay, more benefits, more school funds, and more social services won’t be helpful, either.

The new governor is approaching his job with a firm set of ideas on how to govern Maryland that is in marked contrast to the traditional Democratic method.

No longer will the state budget balloon in order to satisfy special interest groups within the Democratic Party. No longer will special-interest bills designed to mollify those same power bases within the Democratic Party hold sway on the second floor of the State House.

Businessman as governor

Hogan takes a businessman’s approach to governing. He holds definite conservative views, but Larry Hogan is far from an extremist. He’s no friend of tea party fanatics. He’s not about to take Maryland back to the Stone Age.

That could be seen clearly in many of his appointments.

Hogan chose a well-rounded group of upper-level managers and advisers, including a good number of pragmatic, moderate Democrats with legislative experience, such as former Sen. Rona Kramer from Montgomery County, former Baltimore County Councilman Joe Bartenfelder, former Dels. Steve DeBoy and Keiffer Mitchell from the Baltimore area and former Dels. Van Mitchell and George Owings from Southern Maryland.

DeBoy in particular is an important choice, since he will be engaged in lobbying lawmakers on behalf of the Hogan administration. He’s a retired cop from Catonsville who was highly respected by fellow delegates for his friendliness, common-sense and conservative pragmatism.

Understanding Hogan

Many of the appointees have strong business backgrounds. That is the key to understanding Hogan’s mindset.

People with experience in business know the crucial importance of avoiding a deficit. You spend what you take in, and no more. You don’t expand services hoping that the economy soars. That is the path to bankruptcy.

Hogan won’t have much sympathy for teacher unions demanding ever-increasing amounts of school funding. That’s not how businesses work.

Hogan is going to take a jaundiced view of state worker union demands for pay increases and benefit gains every year. He knows that’s a sure way to drive a business to the brink of insolvency.

There’s going to be plenty of pain as Hogan squeezes budgetary excesses out of Maryland’s funding programs. Businesses do that all the time. The goal is to build a leaner yet more effective company.

Losing bad habits

Hogan is almost certain to tell Marylanders that state government has gotten itself into bad habits: excessive borrowing; depleting all the government’s “piggy bank” accounts to paper over revenue shortages; shifting around funds; spending far more each year on education than revenues allow, imposing new taxes to cover up bureaucratic inefficiencies.

Righting the Ship of State in Maryland won’t be easy. The last Republican governor, Bob Ehrlich, rashly thought his charisma would be enough to win over doubting Democrats in the legislature.

Hogan was part of Ehrlich’s team. He witnessed the gridlock and ill will that resulted. He learned some painful lessons.

Centrist politics

The new governor is a glad-handing, commercial land-development salesman and negotiator. Those skills will come in handy. He knows that the art of the deal involves compromise – on both sides.

Governing from the center is pivotal if Hogan is to succeed.

He can’t be a conservative ideologue, tea party libertarian or doctrinaire Republican. None of that will fly with a liberal General Assembly.

Hogan already has shown us he knows how to campaign as a Republican centrist. It proved wildly popular with voters in November.

If he can repeat that recipe as governor, Larry Hogan Jr. could be living in the governor’s mansion for a considerable length of time.

Barry Rascovar’s political blog can be found at www.politicalmaryland.com.  

  • amdactivist

    I truly like Hogan yet not so sure on some of his picks. A couple of his choices are quite aware of the “new americans” aka illegal aliens and their cheap labor policies. . Being involved with immigration issues aka illegal aliens who fraud our systems, I hope Hogan will enforce our laws on the books and checks into the qualifications for being on the systems such as welfare, food stamps and medical where they can get all our resources with literally no id thus allowing illegals to steal our resources by identity theft. Also they can get a mortgage in md with no social security card. How do they check their credit report? Maybe this is one darn good reason Md is now #2 in foreclosures.

  • KatieSilverSpring

    “He’s no friend of tea party fanatics. He’s not about to take Maryland back to the Stone Age.”
    Barry Rascovar clearly knows nothing about TEA Party to have written that. His entire writeup about the incoming Hogan Administration could have been written by TEA Party. What Gov-elect Hogan is doing IS what we as TEA Party want to see in all politicians and elected officials. Which is why I worked on his post-Primary campaign and have been a regular volunteer on the Transition Team. Don’t be so quick, Barry, to dismiss us in ways that only MSNBC does.

  • cwals99

    Actually Hogan is a neo-conservative and that is the opposite of conservative Republican. As Tea Party consevatives know, neo-conservatives support all economic policies that create crony and corrupt markets—subsidized and fraudulent and consolidated taking competition away. Tea Party knows that ignoring anti-trust is the opposite of free market.

    So, indeed, Hogan will do the same as O’Malley and Brown—-he will continue to allow corporate subsidy, corporate fraud to soar, cuts in corporate tax rate and continue to allow national and global corporations to take over Maryland economy and public private partnerships that move state funds to those corporations. The only difference will be which corporations get all that subsidy and cronyism….meanwhile taxes and fees on the working and middle-class will grow to pay for that corporate subsidy. Sure, he will take away people’s pensions, savings, and safety net programs to move to the rich—-but that will not bring down people’s taxes—Republicans, like Clinton neo-liberals always maximize wealth and profit for the rich!

  • luthersomd

    As long as Hogan remains a centrist Republican he has a chance of being a two term Governor. If he becomes a Tea Party fanatic than he will be leaving the State House In Annapolis January 20,2019.

  • InGodWeTrust

    ZZZZZZZZZZ……….

  • Ted

    Hogan, though, could care less if the teachers union or the state workers union or the construction unions fill Lawyers’ Mall to overflowing or flood his office with form-letter emails.

    So he does care? How much does he care about those tactics? Please elaborate. Did you mean to write he couldn’t care less? That would mean something completely different.