Gov. Larry Hogan has said he is not interested in running for U.S. Senate, however he has not ruled out running for president in 2024.
Hogan’s decision to leave that door open raises questions about how a moderate-leaning Republican from a deep-blue state might fare in a GOP presidential primary where former President Donald Trump is still considered the most influential person in the party and is teasing another run for office.
Hogan is Maryland’s first two-term Republican governor since the 1950s. He ran for office focusing on issues related to tax and regulatory reform. And Hogan has largely avoided discussion of controversial social issues such as abortion and immigration since first being elected in 2014.
But Hogan will not have that luxury if he decides to run for president. Abortion, immigration, and the debate over teaching critical race theory are just a few of the hot-button social issues that could dominate a GOP presidential primary.
So could Hogan’s past criticism of Trump and the governor’s steadfast support for getting vaccinated against the novel coronavirus, both of which are unpopular with some segments of the GOP base.
All that considered, how might Hogan fare in a primary field that is likely to be dominated by the more conservative members of the party?
“I think a GOP primary now will be very different than a GOP primary two or three years from now. And I think we are already beginning to see some emerging trend lines inside the GOP where some primary voters despite their fealty to Trump also have a desire to win,” former Lt. Gov. and former Republican National Committee chair Michael Steele told MarylandReporter.com. “And they are looking at some of the Trump-style candidates that are emerging in this space. And there is concern inside the party about how some of these people might fare in a general election.”
As for the hot-button social issues, they might not be as dominant in the primary as some pundits predict, Steele said.
“I do not think those issues play the way that people, particularly in the press, would want to play them up. Abortion is a settled issue in the state of Maryland…Larry has had to deal with immigration issues here given the immigrant population who work in our seasonal industries…I think Larry and candidates like him, particularly those who have governed for eight years and have had to deal with these issues more directly-will be more than prepared to talk about them.”
Richard Vatz, a professor of political science at Towson University, said it is unlikely that Hogan would gain significant traction among GOP presidential primary voters.
“The prospects of Gov. Hogan’s securing the Republican presidential nomination in 2024 are not promising. While his generally successful governorship would argue for serious consideration, his lack of a national footprint, save his serving as chair of the National Governors Association, militates against being his party’s nominee. Maryland is also not a historic springboard for the presidency.”
Vatz added: “More significant, Gov. Hogan’s unambiguous and aggressive anti-Trumpism, including his support for the former president’s impeachment and conviction, earns him credit for rejecting political expediency but probably not much support from national Republicans. The GOP presidential candidate for 2024 will have to beat Trump as well as high profile candidates who support his arguable success in domestic, economic, and foreign policy.”
Todd Eberly, a professor of political science at St. Mary’s College of Maryland, said Hogan would likely fare better among the general electorate than among GOP presidential primary voters.
“The base of the Republican party, the folks who turn out and vote in primaries, is very loyal to Pres. Trump. Hogan has broken with Trump openly on several occasions. GOP voters are less likely to take COVID seriously, but Hogan confronted it rather vigorously with mask mandates and shutdowns. It’s a familiar Catch-22 in contemporary politics. Hogan’s experience as a Republican governing a Blue state makes him a great candidate for a general election. But the very things that make him strong in a general election, work against him in a primary election.”
Sen. Johnny Ray Salling, R-Baltimore County, said it is difficult to predict how Hogan might fare in a GOP presidential primary.
“That is a tough call. It is hard to make a call on that.”
Salling said he is not sure how “well-known” Hogan is outside of Maryland despite the governor having previously served as chair of the National Governors Association, and that a lack of national name recognition could have an adverse effect on a potential campaign.
But again, the outcome is hard to predict, Salling explained.
“The Trump supporters will not like him but he still might get some votes.”
Hogan’s communications director, Michael Ricci, directed MarylandReporter.com to An America United Executive Director David Weinman for comment about the governor’s future political plans. Weinman did not respond to the request by the deadline for this story.
Sadly, the current GOP voting base is too dumb to take a solid republican candidate like Hogan seriously.
Trump beat Hogan 3-1 in a Maryland poll taken before the last election.