Hogan's run for U.S. Senate is all the buzz among former Capitol colleagues


Gov. Hogan addresses Maryland in the governor's reception room on Sept. 8, 2021. (Photo: Rachel Logan) Gov. Hogan addresses Maryland in the governor's reception room on Sept. 8, 2021. (Photo: Rachel Logan)

ANNAPOLIS (Feb. 15, 2024)—Larry Hogan's recent decision to run for U.S. Senate comes as a shock to many of the state's lawmakers—especially Democrats who worked with the former Republican governor and think he wasn't all that cooperative with the legislature.

Now, he's aiming to serve as a lawmaker himself, this time on the national level.

Senate President Bill Ferguson, D-Baltimore City, told reporters this week he thought the former governor "did not seem to be an enthusiast of the legislative process."

"I was very taken aback to see that he is interested in introducing bills, working with legislators, trying to create coalitions to build consensus and pass laws," Ferguson said. "That's the role of the U.S. Senate."

Over a month into the legislative session, Maryland lawmakers are hard at work on their own initiatives in Annapolis. Still, Hogan's decision to run for Senate has been the talk of the town for many of them.

Nearly a year after his term ended and Democratic Gov. Wes Moore took office, Hogan's legacy remains a topic of controversy that echoes through the halls of the State House. The former governor vetoed some of Democrats' favorite bills on topics like abortion, gun restrictions and an education blueprint.

Moore himself aimed a punch at Hogan during the State of the State address on Feb. 7, saying that the former executive spent too much time picking fights with the legislature instead of showing "real leadership and engagement" in Annapolis.

Hogan could potentially have some appeal to moderate and independent voters in a general election, as a frequent critic of former president Donald Trump. But Maryland Democrats say this shouldn't qualify him as a moderate in the minds of voters.

In his first interview since he announced his Senate campaign, Hogan said that it's "not necessary" to enshrine the right to abortion in Maryland's constitution, though he would oppose an outright nationwide abortion ban, according to the Baltimore Banner. Democrats were quick to offer their critique.

"Anyone who thinks that there is no threat to women's reproductive rights and abortion access is delusional," Gov. Moore said in response to Hogan's comments on Wednesday.

Moore said the country has seen the Supreme Court "dismantle decades of precedent overnight," and he asserted that Republicans continue to "stand by" as women's reproductive rights are attacked across the country.

This November, Marylanders will be asked to vote on whether to enshrine abortion rights in the state's constitution. In 2023, the General Assembly voted to include a referendum on the November 2024 ballot.

Hogan's administration commits to "finding common ground for a common good," according to a statement on his Senate campaign website. Hogan's campaign boasts eight years of successful tax cuts, a balanced budget and a record surplus as governor. Capital News Service has reached out to Hogan's campaign several times this week for comment but received no reply.

Some Maryland Republicans believe Hogan has a chance of winning. He has proven he can win in Maryland on a statewide basis and can find a way to map out how to be successful, said Sen. Stephen Hershey, R-Kent, Queen Anne's, Cecil and Caroline counties.

"A U.S. senator election is going to be certainly based on presidential turnout, where the national candidates are at the time, so many different things that come into play during those elections," said Hershey.

Hogan was one of the Republican party's more outspoken critics of former president Donald Trump, who is likely to be at the top of the ticket in the fall. Hogan even claimed he voted for late former president Ronald Reagan over Trump in 2020.

"We haven't had a Republican in the U.S. Senate from Maryland since the '80s. It will be a challenge for him," Del. Jason Buckel, R-Allegany, said. A win for Hogan is going to be an "uphill climb," Buckel said.

After the former governor vetoed several bills with widespread support from Democratic lawmakers, there is "no chance" Democrats in Maryland are going to vote for Hogan, Sen. Cheryl Kagan, D-Montgomery, said.

"He has a terrible record that he's now going to have to defend. It's hard to imagine how he could be successful," Kagan said.

Kagan also voiced concerns about the impression that Hogan is a moderate. "He's not nearly as moderate as his PR people try to make us believe," Kagan said.

Senator Benjamin Kramer, D-Montgomery, echoed this sentiment.

"Although he has done an outstanding job of creating this impression that he is a moderate, he is far from that," Kramer said.

Dereck E. Davis, the state treasurer, a Democrat, said a Hogan win could threaten Democratic control over the U.S. Senate.

"If they were to vote for Gov. Hogan, effectively they're voting for Mitch McConnell," said Davis, referring to the Senate Republican leader from Kentucky. "It could flip the Senate."

Still, he said, it never hurts to have a different point of view like the one Hogan might bring to the national Republican party.

"It's always good to have diversity of thought. I'm not going to get into internal Republican Party politics," he said. "But I think it's healthy when you have various viewpoints … It's great not to have groupthink and rather to have competing ideas."

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