Commentary: Sick of all the campaign coverage? It will get worse

Commentary: Sick of all the campaign coverage? It will get worse

Ex-Gov. Larry Hogan stands with the staff of the Rathskeller German restaurant in Elkridge. MarylandReporter.com photo by Len Lazarick

The following commentary appears in the July issue of The Business Monthly serving Howard and Anne Arundel counties. 

Say what? Donald Trump wants Larry Hogan to win the U.S. Senate seat in Maryland?

That’s what he told a TV reporter in mid-June, just days after his campaign manager trashed Hogan’s campaign and his daughter-in-law, the co-chair of the Republican National Committee, said Hogan deserved no respect.

“Yeah, I’d like to see him win,” Trump said. “I think he has a good chance to win. I would like to see him win and we got to take the majority. We have to straighten out our country, so I’d like to see him win. He’s somebody who can win. I know other people made some strong statements but I can just say from my standpoint, I’m about the party and I’m about the country.”

Was Trump telling the truth, for a change, and trying to help a politician who has been one of his most vocal and visible critics among the dwindling anti-Trump wing of the GOP? Or was he telling the truth, because he really does want the U.S. Senate to flip Republican when he becomes president again, but he also wants to hurt former Republican Gov. Hogan’s chances in a state that Trump lost hugely in 2016 (by 26%) and in 2020 (by 33%)?

Trump likes winners, but he also likes to punish people who don’t like him. So both could be true.

For Democratic Party stalwarts, Trump’s statements just proved that Hogan is what he has never been shy about admitting: He is a Republican. Hogan insists he will be independent in the same vein as the late Republican Sen. John McCain of Arizona or the independent Democrat Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia. Hogan does not deny that he will caucus with his fellow Republicans, as did McCain and Machin does with Democrats.

The late Democratic House Speaker Tip O’Neill famously said that “all politics is local,” repeating a decades-old truism. That truism is no longer true.

Not on his “wurst behavior” 

The day before Trump casually dropped his surprise backing, I had lunch with Hogan and his old sidekick, former Lt. Gov. Boyd Rutherford at the Rathskeller German restaurant in Elkridge. Contrary to the T-shirt Hogan grabbed for his standard photo with the owner, the ex-gov was not on his “wurst behavior” and he clearly does “give a schnitzel” about what’s going on in the country.

As he repeatedly said, Hogan had no interest in being a senator and he didn’t need a job. He was already wealthy from his real-estate development firm and as an ex-governor, he gets a pension amounting to half the salary of the current governor.

Why he ran

“I was at the final decision-making point on me getting into the Senate race when that bipartisan deal collapsed in the Senate on a Wednesday night. The filing deadline was Friday. I saw Republicans who said they wanted to secure the border, support Ukraine, support Israel and Taiwan, and then they all agreed to change their position and vote against it, because Trump told them that he didn’t want to do the deal.”

“That made me angry enough to run. I think we needed to do all those things. I think we need to support all of our allies, stand up to our enemies, and we need to secure the border.”

The election is four months away, but he’s already on his third TV ad as part of a $1 million buy. “Strong, independent leaders can make a difference — that’s exactly what Washington needs today,” Hogan says in the ad. “As President Kennedy said, “Sometimes, party loyalty demands too much.’” Quoting a revered Democratic president emphasizes Hogan’s bipartisan credentials.

He has also put out the usual policy proposals on fighting crime, controlling the southern border and in June, a plan to aid small business with tax cuts, less red tape and more government support, standard fare for a Republican candidate. Sprinkled in with the policy plans are attacks on the record of his Democratic opponent, Prince George’s County Executive Angela Alsobrooks, on taxes, spending and crime.

Democrats aren’t buying it

Democrats mock Hogan’s newly pledged support for reproductive rights and LGBTQ+ rights, saying his actions as governor show those pledges are phony.

Hogan brushes off the attacks

“I don’t think they’re going to be very effective because the attacks are all false. The people of Maryland know me pretty well. They’re trying to convince the majority of Marylanders that they were wrong about me, and that somehow I was a terrible governor and that I wasn’t a bipartisan guy that tried to get things done for everybody. I don’t think there’s any way that they’ll convince the people of Maryland. I think it’s a failed strategy, and I think it’s likely to backfire.”

About The Author

Len Lazarick

len@marylandreporter.com

Len Lazarick was the founding editor and publisher of MarylandReporter.com and is currently the president of its nonprofit corporation and chairman of its board He was formerly the State House bureau chief of the daily Baltimore Examiner from its start in April 2006 to its demise in February 2009. He was a copy editor on the national desk of the Washington Post for eight years before that, and has spent decades covering Maryland politics and government.

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