Hogan’s GOP brand lost to Trump-style politics. He doesn’t see defeat.


Wednesday morning was sad in the orbit of Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan.

As he travels the country to test his chances as a presidential candidate who could lead the Republican Party in a more inclusive direction, voters in his home state repudiated the pragmatic conservatism Hogan is trying to sell. Instead of choosing his hand-chosen protégé, who adopted the subjects he loves, they handed the victory to Del. Dan Cox, a far-right candidate backed by former President Donald Trump, whom Hogan called “a QAnon job.”

Cox, who questioned whether there was an insurrection on January 6, 2021 i has called “centers of indoctrination” in public schools, it represents everything Hogan has criticized in his dozens of television appearances by positioning himself as a Republican alternative to Trump.

Maryland Republicans and national strategists described it as a hard loss, proof that Hogan’s influence may be waning in the party. That is, unless you talk to Larry Hogan himself, who sees no loss.

“There was no repudiation,” Hogan said in an interview. “I mean, I think I’m stronger than ever,” he said, noting recent polls that showed he’s very popular in the state.

Republican strategist Bill Kristol, who once encouraged the second-term governor to challenge Trump in the 2020 primaries, agreed that “Hogan is popular in Maryland.”

But he added: “Hoganism, I’m afraid, from now on, isn’t very popular within the Republican Party of Maryland. And frankly, it’s not popular all over the country right now.”

If Hogan couldn’t convince primary school voters who know him and like them to accept his vision of appealing to moderates and independents to grow the Republican Party, strategists asked, how could he sell this to voters in the Republican Party? Republican primaries who have never met him?

Maryland House Minority Whip, Haven N. Shoemaker Jr. (R-Carroll) said Hogan’s reign over Maryland Republicans appeared to end on Tuesday.

“What we saw with yesterday’s results is that there is considerable Hogan fatigue among voters in Maryland’s Republican primaries,” Shoemaker said. “Much of it is vitriol that comes from the blockades we saw during the global pandemic, and much of the invective that the governor directed at President Trump. You can’t win a Republican primary running from the left. And I think the yesterday’s results proved this fact “.

Primary voters overlooked Hogan’s political student body, former Secretary of State for Commerce Kelly Schulz, and elevated someone the governor has openly called “crazy”: Cox. The state lawmaker attended the Jan. 6 rally that preceded the U.S. Capitol attack and once called former Vice President Mike Pence a “traitor” (though he later expressed regret over his language).

Cox tried to accuse Hogan of coronavirus restrictions and campaigned to audit the 2020 presidential election, restrict abortion rights, exclude transgender athletes from women’s sports, and improve parental control over sex education and teaching race in public schools.

Hogan argued in favor of Schulz, a longtime friend who cut Hogan’s election playbook from emphasizing crime reduction and pocket problems, saying Cox would surely lose the governor’s mansion in November before the Democrats in a deep blue state that only a moderate Republican could win.

Republicans in Maryland chose Cox anyway, giving Hogan a loss in what was widely seen as a power war between his party vision and that of Trump. When Trump rallied Cox supporters earlier this month, his argument was that Hogan was “a lousy governor” and that “with anyone he wants, frankly, he would be against just that base.”

Kristol, as with other Hogan fans, said “I don’t think last night was a disaster.” But he added: “I don’t think the game is enough where it is right now. I don’t know if that will change in the future. “

Hogan said he expects the party to adapt. He viewed Cox’s victory as a kind of partisan scam done by Democrats, who said they put their thumbs on the scales to elevate a marginal candidate who has no chance of winning in November.

“The far left was spending millions of dollars to promote, you know, insurgents who believed in conspiracy theory. That’s what happened.,he said, adding that his own name was not on the ballot.

“It really didn’t have much to do with me,” Hogan said. “It’s a big loss for Maryland and the Republican Party and a big win for, you know, the National Democrats and the Association of Democratic Governors.”

The DGA spent $ 2 million on television and mail in the state to promote Cox’s ties to Trump, more than any of the GOP candidates spent. The DGA he openly acknowledged that he sees Maryland as his best chance to turn a governor’s mansion upside down this year.

But Hogan’s argument is not to hold everyone back.

“I don’t really buy this,” Kristol said. “The most important thing is that Trump endorsed Cox; let’s be real. … The ad is pretty honest, and the ad says this guy, Cox, is a Trump supporter. If that’s what attracts Republican primary voters to Maryland, that’s what attracts them. “

The other candidate Hogan enthusiastically endorsed, his daughter Jaymi Sterling, won his major career as a state attorney in St. Louis County. Mary’s, which voted for Trump by a wide margin in 2020. A mix of candidates backed by Hogan and Trump won on the downside. statewide primary voting, including congressional seats.

Despite winning two terms in a state where Democrats outnumber Republicans by 2 to 1, Hogan has not been proven. When he won re-election by 12 percentage points in 2018, the GOP lost three key county executive races and at least eight competitive General Assembly seats.

The Cook Political Report, which assesses political careers, reclassified the contest for governor from “lean Democrat” to “solid Democrat” after Cox’s victory, skipping the midterm rating of “likely Democrat.” And that without a definitive Democratic candidate. The side of this side is still too close to convene it between newcomer politician Wes Moore, former U.S. Secretary of Labor Tom Perez and Maryland comptroller Peter Franchot.

“It simply came to our notice then. The way Republicans can win in blue states is with moderate Republicans, not Trump-style Republicans in a state the former president lost by 33 points, ”said Jessica Taylor, Cook’s editor.

After Cox won, the DGA posted an ad with images of Hogan’s sharp criticism of Cox for attacking the new GOP candidate.

“I guess they must think I’m still pretty influential,” Hogan said.

Hogan said he would not support Cox in November, though he clearly said “no,” that he would not campaign for the Democratic candidate.

“I hope he does his adult duty and supports his party’s candidate, but unfortunately we haven’t seen anything from him except false statements and comments that he feels alone on a lifeboat,” Cox said in a statement. .

Doug Mayer, who was Hogan’s deputy campaign director and chief adviser to Schulz’s campaign, deflected the implications of Cox’s victory.

“It has nothing to do with Larry Hogan’s political future. After all, it will be shown that the governor is 100 percent right when Dan Cox loses historically. It’s as simple as that,” Mayer said. “There’s a decent amount of Maryland Republicans who don’t understand that there’s a swell of liberal madness that’s driving them. And instead of lighting the hatches, they opened the front door.”

Hogan said he did not deter his effort to persuade Republicans to emulate Reagan’s party. He still has stops in Iowa on his calendar for next month, though he has said he will not make a decision on running for president until he leaves office in January.

“I have long said that there is a battle for the heart and soul of the Republican Party,” Hogan said. “This battle will continue for another couple of years.… And I, for example, will not stop.”

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