Commentary: Republicans owe no loyalty to Larry Hogan

Commentary: Republicans owe no loyalty to Larry Hogan

Former Gov. Larry Hogan gives a victory speech on primary night May 14. Screen shot from campaign video

Democrats are furiously attacking former Republican Gov. Larry Hogan in the U.S. Senate race over his obvious flip-flop on abortion. But Hogan has not just a problem with Democrats who don’t believe he is pro-choice and the moderate he pretends to be.

The supposedly popular ex-governor has a real problem with the Republican base. They gave 28% of their votes to perennial candidate Robin Ficker, the gadfly who has lost elections for every conceivable post over the last 40 years.

Maryland conservatives have classified Hogan as a RINO (Republican in Name Only) for many years, but Hogan shrugs off the criticism, pointing to his cross-party appeal in deep blue Maryland.

I would submit that Larry Hogan is the luckiest politician in Maryland politics today. He has been able to ride the misfortune of the Democrats across Maryland and make himself look more like a moderate than a conservative.

Runs against Brown, Jealous

Hogan’s first run for governor in 2014 was against Anthony Brown who would have clearly been a third term of the O’Malley Administration. In 2014, the taxpayers of Maryland had their fill of O’Malley’s tax policies and were looking for an alternative.

The final nail in that coffin was the institution of the Maryland statewide “Rain Tax.” Paying for the amount of runoff on a property to include the roof area, driveway and any other runoff areas was the final insult for Maryland taxpayers. Hogan looked like a moderate Republican and a potential governor that would not continue the tax policies of the Democrats.

I attended a Brown-Hogan presentation and it was clear the questions were loaded to support Brown. But that’s not what the people who were present wanted to see. After addressing the crowd, it was clear that Hogan had convinced a sizable number of Dems to vote for him – giving him his win in 2014.

Fast forward to the 2018 election cycle. Gov. Hogan faced a large Democrat field of candidates. Running at the front of the pack was the popular Democratic Baltimore County Executive Kevin Kamenetz — a veteran politician. All indications at the time were that Hogan’s reelection would be a very heavy lift for the Hogan team if Kamenetz won the Democrat primary. But Hogan did not have to face that possibility. Unfortunately, Kamenetz, just 60, suffered a massive heart attack and died, throwing the Democrats into disarray.

The Democrats’ solution was a candidate that would lead to a second term for Larry Hogan. Afterall, what kind of politician would he be if he could not defeat Ben Jealous, a progressive who had never run for political office. Even the Dems were disappointed in his nomination. For Hogan, that was not political skill – that was clearly political luck.

Fails to flip Senate seats

In 2018, the Hogan Campaign set their sights on flipping five state Senate seats. One of the state’s most popular governors and for that matter in the country not only failed to flip the five seats he needed to prevent his vetoes from being overridden. He lost two additional Senate seats to the Democrats, and seats in the House as well, solidifying their supermajority in the state legislature.

Hogan made political hay by vetoing progressive legislation that came to his desk only to have those vetoes overridden by the legislature a few months later. Hogan also made a big deal about redistricting. Appointing a bipartisan blue-ribbon panel to travel the state and develop a redistricting plan to try and break the advantage that Gov. Martin O’Malley had gerrymandered before leaving office.

At the time we thought this was a great move by a Republican governor. What he failed to mention was that whatever recommendations the commission would develop would have to be approved by the Democratic supermajority in the legislature. The commission’s recommendations went nowhere.

As a Republican nominee for delegate in Legislative District 15 in Montgomery County in 2018, I directly asked the Hogan campaign for an endorsement. I was told that under no uncertain terms would Hogan endorse a Republican in Montgomery County – because he did not want to lose any of the Democrats in MoCo that were going to vote for him. The endorsement of a Republican for the legislature might dilute some Dem votes. I was told I would not win, and Hogan did not want to be seen endorsing Republican candidates in MoCo.


Never a true Republican

Larry Hogan left office with the state Republican Party in complete disarray. He has never been a true Republican, not even to those who loyally followed his policies and programs through his eight years as governor. He now claims that he always supported the “Right to Choose” on the issue of abortion, and we should not be shocked by his latest pronouncement.

What we know for sure is that Larry Hogan having won the Republican nomination for the U.S. Senate has just shown his “true blue” color to the Republican voters of Maryland. RINO does not do him justice. Flip-flopper, political opportunist, and overall, a disappointment to conservatives. Those are better descriptions of Larry Hogan and his campaign.

What we should know for sure is Hogan is counting on Democrats to get him elected, as he always has. He should know that Republicans and conservatives across the state of Maryland will have a hard time marking their general election ballots for him. Let the Dems vote for him. With control of the Senate at stake, I suspect that the Dems will close ranks, and despite Hogan’s opportunistic shift on abortion, they will not be fooled by his pandering.

Republicans owe no loyalty to Larry Hogan. Hogan has no loyalty to the Republicans of Maryland.

About The Author

Marc King

Marc A. King was a 2018 Republican nominee for delegate in the Maryland Legislature from Legislative District 15. Marc has continued his political activism by providing blogs related to a variety of political activities at the federal, state and local level. A retired Army lieutenant colonel, he transitioned from the position of President, Ceradyne Armor Systems, Inc., and provides advice and assistance to defense contractors as the President and CEO of KGV Enterprises, LLC, a defense strategies consultancy.

1 Comment

  1. Andy Arnold

    Interesting opinion from a member of the defense industrial complex. When Hogan and I ran for Congress in the 4th and 5th districts in 1992, I was unabashedly pro-life. He was a self-described lib-con (conservative with libertarian leanings). Hogan’s “flip-flop” is consistent with that long-help position. A bipartisan blue-ribbon panel to travel the state and develop a redistricting plan is simply good government — something the party in power will not tolerate.

    As a former central committee, I assure the author the Maryland Republican Party has always been in complete disarray. I left the party because there was no room for conservatives in it. For example, Iraq never threatened the United States, but two GOP presidents attacked insisting on regime change. Are we better off today than we were 35 years ago?

    Finally, if Marc King thinks the Maryland Republican Party is mega, he must realize Robin Ficker lost 72 percent of the Republican vote in the primary. What does that and Alan Cox’ laughable defeat the the governor’s race say?

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