Maryland lawmakers react to Larry Hogan’s surprise run for Senate: ‘Taken aback’

February 16, 2024

Delmarva Now

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.”

Hogan’s comments on abortion draw fire from Democrats

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.

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 was committed 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.

Republicans more bullish on Larry Hogan’s Senate chances

Some Maryland Republicans believe Hogan has a solid 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.

“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.

Democratic lawmakers say Larry Hogan is no moderate

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.

Treasurer says despite differences, he values ‘various viewpoints’

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.”