What kind of GOP do we want? A party of Trump or the party of Hogan?

What kind of GOP do we want? A party of Trump or the party of Hogan?

The purple wave of popularity among both Democrats and Republicans propelled Larry Hogan into two terms as Republican governor of Maryland. But he was unable to bring along other Republicans with him to success. Governor's Office photo

Anybody who knows me or knows of me knows that I have been a conservative Republican my entire adult life. Unfortunately, too many in my party seem to be more interested in relegating the GOP to the ash heap of history than establishing a path to win elections, especially here in Maryland.

I was by no means a supporter of Donald Trump during his two runs for the presidency. Trump and his so-called populist policies had more in common with the worst instincts of Democrats than in traditional Republican principles of small government, low taxes, free trade, and national security.

Sadly, that has not stopped far too many Republicans in Maryland from abandoning their professed conservative principles to follow Trump’s populist policies.

Trump and Trumpism have never been popular in Maryland. That manifested itself in a less than fantastic 2018 election where, despite Gov. Larry Hogan’s overwhelming reelection, voter dissatisfaction with Republicans generally and Trump specifically led to unexpected Republican losses across Maryland. Despite the overwhelming evidence to the contrary, too many Maryland Republican leaders continued to insist that Trump and his style of politics were the formula for electoral success.

Even in the wake of Trump’s overwhelming November 3rd electoral defeat, some Republican officials here in Maryland are too busy bending the knee to Trump to see the forest for the trees. This has been at just about every level of Republican electoral governance.

Bending knees to Trump

Congressman Andy Harris is getting most of the attention for his cowardly abstention on Trump’s second impeachment, his 2 a.m. fight on the floor of the House, or his gunplay. Del. Dan Cox of Frederick Co. continues to show no remorse for his support of the QAnon conspiracy theory and calling former Vice-President Mike Pence a traitor.

Republican Central Committee members and even some official County Central Committee communication organs have voiced their support for the attempted coup d’etat at the Capitol on January 6th.

At what point will the cultish madness end?

The Maryland Republican Party has been doing yeoman’s work in trying to keep this ship afloat. State Party Chairman Dirk Haire and Executive Director Corine Frank have done everything they can to keep the Republican wing and the Trump wing of the GOP together. But they cannot do it alone.

At some point, it is incumbent upon local Republican Central Committee members and activists to decide what kind of party we want to have.

What kind of GOP do we want?

Do local Central Committees want to continue down their current path? Do Central Committees want to continue to make Donald Trump the focus of the party, even as we approach a gubernatorial election? Do members, publicly and privately, continue to want to demonize a fellow Republican in Gov. Larry Hogan, the most successful governor of Maryland in over a generation?

Do activists want to continue to push bonkers conspiracy theories that turn off even sympathetic, conservative-leaning voters? Do leaders want to push failed electoral strategies like boat parades and car parades at the expense of proven winning methods?

Or do Central Committee members want to turn the corner and embrace the future? Will activists embrace conservative principles again? Will they focus on the issues that matter to voters instead of promoting a cult of personality around a failed president? Will Central Committees re-embrace the proven get-out-the-vote principles that have been so effective in so many elections across the state? And will members and activists get behind the Republican candidate for governor in order to stop Democrats from taking the state backward?

There are two choices that Central Committees and activists can make. One is the proven and successful path tread by the only two-term Republican governor of Maryland in the last sixty years, one that leads Republicans closer to making Maryland a truly competitive two-party state. The other is to follow a cult into an electoral abyss that will truly bury Maryland Republicans for a generation.

I know which path I choose. And I refuse to concede my party to unprincipled activists and leaders who want to follow Donald Trump into political irrelevance.

About The Author

Brian Griffiths


Brian Griffiths is a columnist for The Capital in Annapolis, the publisher of The Duckpin, available for free at TheDuckpin.com, and host of The Duckpin Podcast, available on YouTube, iHeartRadio, Apple Podcast, Stitcher, Anchor, Google Podcast, Spotify, and wherever podcasts are available. He can be reached via email at brian.griffiths.media@gmail.com, on Twitter @BrianGriffiths, or on Facebook at facebook.com/briangriffithsmd.


  1. James

    Brian Griffiths couldn’t win election in MSL, let alone in public. So he’s relegated to the chattering class of CINOs proclaiming owning a gun and expressing thoughts are crimes. He holds up Reagan while forgetting Reagan was chastised at the time in much the same way. It’s okay. No one really wants the Brian seal of “true conservative” anyway.

    But he has his own blog. Is Marylandreporter getting a column at Duckpin? I’d hope so. Otherwise, why on earth did you get waste digital space on this drivel?

  2. Dan H

    Trump lost. Over and over again. His leadership was rejected by the constitutionally mandated and conducted election of Joe Biden. The decision before all Republicans is either to reject DJT’s authoritarian style of populism, or to follow the anti-democratic, anti-constuituional, and twice-impeached ex-president into more loss and ignominy.

    It remains to be seen if Larry Hogan or any other high stature pol can corral the GOP which at this point is fracturing before our very eyes.

    • Vassiliki Lyras

      You do realize that he was never impeached? The Senate voted no to impeachment. As for the second try on impeachment it is being heard in the senate tomorrow- no conclusion yet of the outcome. So how can you say he was impeached twice? On another note, you do know that a non-sitting president cannot be impeached? This begs to question why the Senate agreed to accept the impeachment papers from the House since it goes against the rules of impeachment as stated in the constitution. My conclusion is that the Senate knows the election was stolen (they saw the evidence on Jan 6th- the Italian evidence) and therefore know that President Trump is still the President so they can impeach him -otherwise they are going against the constitution.
      As for the election cases are still being heard in courts and the SC. Individual states are still looking into the election steal and it has not concluded as of yet. I don’t want to hear the liberal talking points that the court cases have been rejected which proves that they was no steal/fraud. The judges/courts that rejected certain cases was on the merits not on the evidence (which they never looked at). I don’t know about you but if there is any iota of any kind of fraud/election I want it to be looked at no matter what side of the aisle. President Trump is a populace President – more than 80 million American citizens voted for him- obviously they like his policies. The one that is acting like a dictator is Creepy Joe with over 20 EO within 10days and over 20 Executive mandates. This is the first time in history where a president has issued so many- just like a dictator. He is dismantling our nation with every one of his anti american EOs and mandates.

  3. Vassiliki

    It is no longer a cult when more than half of voting American Citizens support a particular person/candidate. So basically you are ok with the liberal/socialist democrat policies since you oppose Trump’s fiscal policies, immigration policies, America first policies- bringing jobs back to the USA, not mandating federal policies but allowing each governor apply policies to their respective states about covid mandates (state power v Fed government) and so much more. All these policies are republican not democrat. You are in the wrong party go join your democrat/liberal/globalist comrades. If you did not state that you are a supposed conservative republican I would have thought that this piece was written by a liberal whacko – another hit jump on President Trump that the media has been non stop ever since he came down the escalator with our beautiful, elegant, intelligent, strong FLOTUS.