By Glynis Kazanjian
Larry Hogan, Jr., the Republican nominee for governor, said he knows beating Lt. Gov. Anthony Brown is going to be hard, but his own polling shows him running better than any Republican before, including Bob Ehrlich, whom he served as appointments secretary.
“I’ve traveled all across this state,” Hogan told a Rotary Club meeting in Bethesda Thursday morning. “I’ve been to Baltimore City and all 23 counties at least six or seven times. There is a common theme. People are frustrated. They feel like their elected officials are not only not solving problems, but are also causing them.”
Hogan traveled over an hour and a half from his home in Edgewater to speak at the metroBethesda Rotary club’s weekly breakfast meeting. The club, a chapter of a nonpartisan, international service organization with the motto “Service above Self,” has only 42 members.
Hogan relying on heavy statewide turnout
Hogan acknowledged that while his own internal polling shows he is ahead in 19 out of 23 counties in the state, the largest jurisdictions – Montgomery, Prince George’s and Baltimore – are going to be tough to win.
“We are doing much better than any Republican ever has,” Hogan said. “In Baltimore County, where Bob Ehrlich lost last time (2010) by two points, we’re winning by 19 points. That’s usually a bellwether — it swings back and forth. That’s the same number [Ehrlich] got when he won in 2002.”
Hogan said in Baltimore City, where former Gov. Bob Ehrlich received 9% of the vote in 2002, his polls show the Republican ticket currently with 24% support. And in Montgomery County, Ehrlich got 33% when he won but Hogan said his campaign is currently at 44%.
Hogan said he was relying on a heavy turnout throughout the state to win.
“People are crossing over,” Hogan said. “Currently polls show me winning Independents 31%.”
Making up numbers, Brown campaign says
Brown campaign spokesman, Justin Schall, scoffed at Hogan’s figures.
“First the Baltimore Sun debunked Larry Hogan’s savings plan pointing out that it just doesn’t add up – not surprising Hogan is making up more numbers, but it won’t help him on election day.”
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Tracey Hoston, a Democrat who serves as secretary for the rotary club, said she is keeping an open mind this election season.
“As a registered Democrat, I’m considering not voting for Anthony Brown,” Hoston said after Hogan’s speech. “The online healthcare system is a joke. We tried to sign up for it. We did everything we were supposed to do. It didn’t work. It’s the worst thing I’ve ever seen.”
Hoston, who is married and has one son, said her family lost their health insurance for nearly eight months.
Stephanie Lowet, a public relations professional and registered Democrat who listened to Hogan at the Rotary breakfast, said she is still voting for Brown. She said she believes the frustration people are expressing is simply “Obama fatigue.”
Karl Miller, another registered Democrat, said he was voting for Hogan.
“I’m really an independent,” said Miller, a Bethesda resident. “I vote for the person.”
Miller said he voted for Obama the first time, Mitt Romney the second, for Bill Clinton and George Bush before that.
Julian Mansfield, metroBethesda Rotary president, said the group normally invites local politicians, but Hogan was requested by the members. The Brown campaign was also invited, but declined.
Hogan has heavy schedule statewide
“We are going to work for every single vote,” Hogan said. “I’ve met tens of thousands of people from all walks of life.”
Hogan said his campaign went to inner city Baltimore where they had a cook-out, to Towson University where an all African American audience gave him a standing ovation and was in Cambridge two weeks ago with watermen and farmers.
“The folks were a little hesitant at first,” Hogan said of his visit to Baltimore City. “They said no one ever comes here. No one ever shows up.”
Hogan said 1,500 people showed up in Cambridge, and he has won the endorsement of the Maryland Farm Bureau.
“They were just dying for change in Annapolis,” Hogan said. “Almost all of them are Democrats.”
Hogan faces an uphill battle in a state where Democrats out number Republicans two-to-one. But the same Independents and Democrats that voted for Ehrlich in 2002 can take Hogan over the finish line, the candidate believes.
The poll released Sunday by the Baltimore Sun shows Brown leading Hogan by 7 points.
President Obama will be coming to Prince George’s County on Sunday to campaign for Brown, helping him stir up the Democratic base in Brown’s home county that is crucial to the Democrat’s victory.