Photo above: On a Bethesda street, from right, N.J. Gov. Chris Christie, Republican nominee Larry Hogan Jr,, and Hogan press secretary Adam Dubitsky. Photo by Glynis Kazanjian.
By Glynis Kazanjian
New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie assured Republican volunteers in Bethesda Tuesday morning that a Republican can be elected in a blue state like Maryland.
“It can happen,” said Christie, who was in town raising money for Larry Hogan, Jr., the Republican nominee for governor. “I’m here to tell you, I’m living proof. And, it can also happen more than once.”
Christie, the chairman of the Republican Governors Association, easily won reelection in New Jersey, a state where Democrats control the House and Senate.
Hogan, who has been gaining momentum in the closing weeks of the campaign, hosted Christie at a private fundraiser in Montgomery County Tuesday morning, though the campaign would not disclose how much was raised.
As the race tightens, Hogan has been spending more time in Montgomery County where the largest number of Maryland’s registered Republicans reside.
According to the latest figures from the State Board of Elections, there are 122,000 registered Republicans in the county and nearly 150,000 Independents – a constituency that is showing interest in Hogan’s message of lower taxes and more jobs. There are about 360,000 registered Democrats in the county.
Hogan will need Republicans, Independents and crossover Democrats to turn out for the election for a victory in a state where Democrats outnumber Republicans two to one.
Early voting starts Thursday, voters still making their picks
But with early voting starting Thursday — and only two weeks until Election Day — some voters still don’t know who they are voting for, if they decide to vote at all.
“I don’t even know who Larry Hogan is,” said a woman walking into the Bethesda Original Pancake House when she heard he was going to be visiting.
“I don’t even think I know enough about it to have an opinion,” said Wendy Levin, a 61-year-old Bethesda resident who was having breakfast during the Hogan event. “I’ve only noticed what’s negative from Brown.”
Levin was referring to negative television ads ran against Hogan. Levin said despite that fact that Hogan has rebutted the attacks, the ads did the trick.
“It still doesn’t sit well with me,” she said. “Gun [control] and abortion [rights] are important to me.”
Christie said if he had Lt. Gov. Anthony Brown’s record and he was running for a third term of Gov. Martin O’Malley, he’d want to change the subject too.
“Of course he’s gonna send you down every rabbit hole he can,” Christie said of Brown’s attack ads.
Crossover Dem says Hogan message appeals to him
There was one Democrat among the crowd who traveled all the way from Baltimore County with his girlfriend to hear Hogan speak.
“He brings a different vision,” Joe Crock, 29, said of Hogan. “He’s campaigning on the Change Maryland message, which is a good one. I think Anthony Brown will be a third O’Malley term.”
Brown spending outpaces Hogan
Monday evening, former Pennsylvania governor and Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge, a Republican, headlined a fundraiser for Hogan in Gambrills.
In September, Brown raised $1.2 million from just one fundraiser with former president Bill Clinton. He spent more than $11 million in the primary.
Hogan accepted public financing in his bid for governor, which caps how much his campaign can raise and spend. Total spending will be limited to $6.3 million. The Hogan campaign can spend $2.6 million, which they receive from the state, and the state Republican Party and local central committees can raise and spend an additional $3.6 million on his behalf.
The Brown campaign did not accept public financing.
“I don’t think they are going to stop him,” Christie said. “I go to places where we can win.”