If Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan decides to run for president would he be able to secure enough support to win his home state in a competitive GOP primary election?
Hogan’s more moderate brand of Republicanism appears to be at odds with a party that has many voters who are still enthusiastic about former President Donald Trump and his MAGA populist vision.
During the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic Hogan angered many MAGA-type Republicans by imposing lockdowns and mandates. “Just wear a damn mask” and “Just get the damn vaccine” were frequent retorts by the governor. Hogan also angered many conservatives by calling out Trump on his demonstrably false claim that the 2020 presidential election had been stolen and by calling for Trump to resign following the Jan. 6, 2021 attack on the U.S. Capitol by supporters of the then-president.
And, yes, MAGA Republican primary voters are a force to be reckoned with even in states like Maryland where Trump lost to President Joe Biden by more than 30 percentage points.
How do we know this?
Just last month former Hogan cabinet secretary and Republican standard-bearer Kelly Schulz lost the GOP gubernatorial primary election by double-digits to ultra-conservative conspiracy theory touting Trump-loyalist Del. Dan Cox, R-Frederick and Carroll.
Because Hogan backed Schulz and Trump backed Cox and Cox won, some pundits have since argued that the repudiation of Schulz essentially amounts to a repudiation of Hogan among the same constituency that helped thrust the now highly popular two-term governor onto the political stage nearly a decade ago.
Potential 2024 presidential candidates
It is unclear if Trump will run for president again. Or if either former Vice President Mike Pence or Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis will decide to run and take up the MAGA mantle. Or maybe Rep. Liz Cheney of Wyoming, who recently lost a primary election to a Trump-backed candidate, will decide to run for president. At this point, we just do not know what the 2024 field will look like.
We also do not know if Hogan will run. But he has given some indication that he might, such as having recently traveled to New Hampshire and Iowa and Nebraska to campaign for Republicans who seemingly share his vision of where the party should go.
That is the national picture.
But closer to home, there are more pressing questions about a potential Hogan presidential bid.
State lawmakers and political analysts weigh-in
First, if Hogan does run, can he win over the Maryland Republicans who enthusiastically nominated him twice but have since rejected his political protege and chosen successor? Second, does Schulz’s defeat signal that Hogan would be at risk of losing his home state in a presidential primary?
“I am not sure if it is as simple and direct an analysis as that,” Del. Jason Buckel, R-Allegany, told Baltimore Post-Examiner.
Buckel, who is the top Republican in the House of Delegates, added: “What we have found is that many voters in the Republican Party are not satisfied with the progress and the direction that the state has made over the past four years. Whether you can put that at the feet of Governor Hogan, who is trying hard to implement policies that most Republican voters would have preferred-or whether you simply chalk that up to the reality of the Democratic legislature that passes a lot of legislation that we believe is not good for Maryland and overturns pretty much every veto the governor issues-that is an open question.”
Buckel said Hogan’s sometimes vocal opposition to Trump could hurt him with some of the state’s Republican primary voters.
“There are some people in Maryland who are fans of former President Trump who probably take it personally the way that Hogan seems to make it a point to be against Trump in most circumstances. I think there are others who frankly feel like we have simply not accomplished enough…After eight years I am not sure. I have met a lot of people who are not sure if Maryland has really changed all that much from a policy perspective and an outcome perspective.”
Buckel said Maryland’s economy is undoubtedly much better now than it was when Hogan was first elected in 2014. However, the minority leader also stressed that many of state’s more rural and Republican strongholds-such as the eastern shore and western Maryland-have not experienced the same level of economic prosperity as that of the predominately Democratic Baltimore-Washington metropolitan region. Buckel said support for Cox in rural areas can partly be viewed as evidence of that fact.
As for whether Hogan would carry Maryland in a presidential primary, Buckel said he is not sure.
“It obviously would depend on who the other candidates are and a variety of other factors that are difficult to predict this far out. I do not think that it would be a slam dunk by any stretch of the imagination. I think Hogan would certainly be competitive in his home state.”
Former Republican National Committee Chairman and former Maryland Lt. Gov. Michael Steele said it is too early to assess how Hogan might perform in any presidential primary.
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