The Runback: The Unfilled Promise
Was Governor Larry Hogan's time in office a success? Or do we have to ask ourselves "What if?"
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News and Politics
Harris Botches First Major MDGOP Decision: Instead of Hiring Somebody With Extensive Maryland Experience, the new State Party Chair made the mistake of hiring an outsider.
Democratic Tiptoe Around the Obvious: Why don't Democrats want to say what an abortion is?
Bill Ferguson's Priorities Highlight the Radical Shift of the State Senate: We're a Long Way From Mike Miller
Blowback from the Throwdown: The Quixotic Caucus's fight will reverberate for years for both parties
Democrats Seek to Defy the Supreme Court: Senate Bill 1 is a controversial new bill that would, effectively, ban the carry of concealed weapons in public places. It does not pass constitutional muster.
Maryland Democrats love democracy. Until they don’t: Why elect a Board of Education when you can usurp its power instead?
National Media Continues Building a Wes Moore Hagiography: National Media continues its kid gloves treatment of Maryland's Governor-Elect, but that's not what's most disturbing in this CBS interview.
The Monday Thought
Eight years ago was the promise of a new day in Maryland. Larry Hogan became the 62nd Governor of Maryland.
The question that we have, eight years later, is this: was his term as a Governor a success?
The answer to that question? Yes and No.
Taxes: After 40+ consecutive tax increases during the O’Malley years, it was a breath of fresh air to have a governor that made sure that tax increases stopped. While not every tax increase was stopped on Governor Hogan’s watch, it was a refreshing change to have somebody with a veto pen who was not afraid to use it to protect Maryland's working families.
Spending: Eight consecutive years of balanced budgets, and eight consecutive years of minimal budget growth. After the exploding spending of the O’Malley Years, it was good to have a Governor who spent within the means of the state budget.
Regulations: The red tape was cut in vast swaths of the state bureaucracy, even more so than occurred during the previous Republican administration. The economy benefitted from these loosening of regulations through robust growth.
Transportation: The fact that we are finally building more lane miles of highways in Maryland after decades of Democratic neglect is a worthwhile victory for all Marylanders. The cancellation of the costly and unnecessary Baltimore Red Line project saved the state from involving itself in another boondoggle. The refocusing of transportation projects from a transit-first philosophy to a balanced approach will benefit Marylanders for decades to come.
Sports Betting: It was on Governor Hogan’s watch that sports betting finally got pushed over the finish line.
Redistricting: Governor Hogan’s attempts at bipartisanship on the issue were steamrolled by Democrats who had no interest in bipartisanship. This, ultimately, will be the seminal issue of the Hogan Years. When a Republican Governor had a chance to dramatically alter our General Assembly districts after decades of Democratic gerrymandering, he ultimately could not make it happen.
Education: In his farewell remarks, Governor Hogan made a reference to “record investments in education eight years in a row to better prepare our children for the opportunities of the future.” But that will not matter since the Administration was unable to stop the disastrous Kirwin Commission from becoming law, which will hurt educational opportunities and not create pathways to get kids out of failing schools.
Legacy: Governor Hogan’s relationship with the state GOP apparatus was always a bit frosty, and the inability of the Hogan team to help the GOP team grow and prosper is partially why the state GOP is the mess it is right now. On top of it, Hogan was unable to help Kelly Schulz over the finish line and give Republicans a fighting chance to compete in 2022. Other candidates who received Hogan’s endorsement did not receive as much support. Hogan had no coattails, almost anywhere. The political legacy of Governor Hogan is a 30+ point gubernatorial loss, larger Democratic legislative majorities than he started, and a near decimation of the Republican bench. While not all of that was his fault, there is some culpability.
The Mixed Bag
Guns: The General Assembly was never going to pass meaningful gun legislation. But the Administration was able to expand gun permit access even before the Supreme Court acted and implemented the decision for all Marylanders immediately thereafter. That being said, the Administration also supported red flag laws and only pushed the concealed carry permit issue for all Marylanders until after the Supreme Court issued its decision.
Crime: Hogan gets a lot of well-deserved credit for how he handled the 2015 Baltimore Riots. But a lot of anti-crime legislation was passed over top of his veto and his objection. Additionally, Baltimore still has a ridiculously high violent crime rate. Could the Administration have done more? Probably.
COVID: The Hogan Administration’s response to COVID was appropriate at the outset. It was certainly more balanced and rational than what was coming out of county governments. But the Korea Test kits were a complete debacle that will haunt his political future.
The Bottom Line
During the Red Maryland days, we endorsed Hogan’s candidacy for Governor before he even announced it. We always said that we were on the Hogan Bus before there was even a bus. We said in our endorsement:
In a time where we are trying to determine who best to take the message of fiscal restraint to the people of Maryland, how could we possibly turn away somebody who is already doing it successfully. Through Change Maryland, Larry Hogan is already taking this message to all Marylanders. It is a message that is tested, is proven, and we know can be successful in an electoral environment. Through Change Maryland, Hogan has proven that he has what it takes to mount an organized, disciplined campaign.
While Larry has not yet formally announced his decision to run for Governor in 2014, we are comfortable with our knowledge that he is the right candidate for the job and look forward to supporting his bid to seek a position that will allow us to have a responsible and competent steward of the public’s money.
Through that lens, Hogan was generally a success as Governor. But I still come back to that redistricting issue. One of the reasons why redistricting was a failure for Maryland Republicans was due to the 2018 election. Republicans lost winnable seats in 2018 due to Trump fatigue. Most of that was due to circumstances that were completely out of Hogan’s control. But you have to wonder what today would look like if the situation were different.
If Republicans had won more seats in 2018, enough to reach a large enough minority to uphold a veto, more reasonable legislative redistricting would be in place. That would, by the nature of having fair maps, have meant even more Republican representation right now in the General Assembly instead of the shrinking minorities of 39 and 13 in each chamber.
That would truly have Changed Maryland for the Better on a more permanent basis.
Now, as I said, we got to this place partially due to things out of the Governor’s control, and that’s true. The shadow of Donald Trump sunk a lot of good candidates in 2018, and the stink of Dan Cox in 2022 sunk more. But many of us thought that a Republican in office would create a situation for a more competitive General Assembly due to the Governor’s control of the redistricting process.
It did not.
Now, the focus for Governor Hogan turns to New Hampshire, South Carolina, Iowa, and the other early Republican Primary contests. And with that, we can’t help but wonder if Larry Hogan’s gubernatorial service was harmed by his Presidential Aspirations. It was the same mistake that Martin O’Malley made. It is the same mistake that Governor-elect Wes Moore seems to be making. But as far back as 2019, when he publicly mused about a primary challenge to Trump, it seems like Hogan’s eye has been wandering toward the White House.
Though Hogan moves on, it leaves a lot of us asking a simple question: what if?