By BRENNAN STEWART, YESENIA MONTENEGRO, TORRENCE BANKS, LISA WOELFL and ANGEL GINGRAS
Capital News Service
WASHINGTON – Former Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan will run for a seat in the U.S. Senate.
Hogan, a Republican, announced his campaign on Friday via social media, releasing a video just nine hours before Maryland’s candidacy deadline and surprising a lot of political observers.
“Fifty years ago, my father, Maryland congressman Larry Hogan Sr., made a very tough decision. He became the first Republican to come out for the impeachment of President Nixon,” Hogan said. “He put aside party politics and his own personal considerations, and he stepped up to do the right thing for Maryland and the nation.”
“Today, Washington is completely broken, because that kind of leadership, that kind of willingness to put country over party, has become far too rare,” Hogan added.
Hogan joins the list of 20 candidates fighting for outgoing Sen. Ben Cardin’s seat. Cardin, a Democrat, announced in May his plan to retire at the end of his current term.
Notable Senate candidates include Democrats Angela Alsobrooks, Prince George’s County executive, and Rep. David Trone, as well as Republicans Robin Ficker, a former member of the Maryland House of Delegates and a perennial candidate for various offices, and John Teichert, a retired Air Force brigadier general.
“The beauty of living in this great republic that I fought to defend for over three decades is that we give Americans a choice about who represents us in elected public office,” Teichert said in a statement released Friday. “Marylanders deserve to have a choice and I welcome anyone to the race who wants to offer them one.”
If elected, Hogan would become Maryland’s first Republican senator since Charles Mathias, who served in the Senate from 1969 to 1987.
“He’s the only Republican in the state who stands a chance,” Todd Eberly, associate professor of political science and public policy at St. Mary’s College of Maryland, told Capital News Service.
“His chances depend on a couple of factors,” said John Dedie, political science professor at the Community College of Baltimore County. “First, if the Trone, Alsobrooks primary gets contested with nastiness and they can’t make peace after the primary… that could help Hogan because maybe one side stays home and doesn’t vote.”
According to Dedie, Hogan will have to focus on his accomplishments during his two terms as governor and his work with the Democrats. He may have to criticize Republicans, but then some of those voters may stay home, Dedie said.
Trone said in a statement that Hogan’s bid is an attempt to boost the agenda of Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Kentucky, and former President Donald Trump.
“Larry Hogan’s candidacy is nothing but a desperate attempt to return Mitch McConnell and Donald Trump to power and give them the deciding vote to ban abortion nationwide, suppress votes across the country, and give massive tax cuts to the wealthiest Americans,” Trone said in a statement.
Hogan has always said that he is pro-life, according to Dedie. On this year’s ballot, Maryland voters will see a “measure of basically codified abortion rights into the state constitution,” which will affect Hogan’s campaign, Dedie said.
Cardin believes that the Republican nominee for Senate will be in a tough battle against Democratic candidates Alsobrooks and Trone for the seat.
“Regardless of who is the Republican nominee, I am confident that Marylanders will keep our state in the blue column this November, holding the Senate as a bulwark against a dysfunctional and chaotic House of Representatives,” Cardin said in a statement.
According to Bloomberg, McConnell recruited Hogan.
“This is the best one in the sense that we are now competitive in a state nobody thought we could win. He’s a proven winner,” McConnell told Bloomberg.
Maryland’s primary election is May 14, giving Hogan just three months to campaign.
Sabato’s Crystal Ball at the University of Virginia’s Center for Politics slightly changed its rating for the Maryland Senate race after Hogan’s announcement from “Safe Democratic” to “Likely Democratic,” a reflection of the former governor’s immediate impact on the contest.
In Annapolis, one Republican lawmaker said he wouldn’t count Hogan out.
“I certainly believe that Governor Hogan feels that he has a path to victory, or else he would not get into the race,” said State Senate Minority Leader Stephen Hershey, R-Caroline, Cecil, Kent and Queen Anne’s counties. “He certainly has a chance. He’s proven that he can win in Maryland, on a statewide basis … He has found a way to map that out and believes that he can be successful.”
But another fellow Republican asserted that running on the ticket with Trump would be no easy task for Hogan.
House Minority Leader Jason Buckel, R-Allegany, told CNS that Hogan’s announcement took him by surprise.
“It’s going to be an uphill climb,” Buckel said. “He’ll have to navigate being on the ticket with Donald Trump … and it will be a challenge for him.”