This subject has come up here repeatedly and I’ve always had pretty much the same take on it. Maryland Governor Larry Hogan is being courted by many in the media and the political world as well to launch a primary bid against President Trump next year. When I’ve looked at this issue in the past I’ve concluded that he probably enjoys all the attention he’s getting and doesn’t mind tossing out some teasers for the media, but he’s also probably too smart to launch such a doomed venture. Donald Trump’s support among the base is too strong and Hogan is far too much of a northeastern RINO to win over most of the conservatives in the country.
Did I read this entirely wrong? Hogan gave yet another interview this weekend and he’s sounding very much like somebody who is considering a run. Here are a couple of excerpts from the Washington Post.
Hogan is signaling that if he decides to wage an insurgent campaign for the GOP nomination, he would pitch himself as far more in tune with the party’s long-held values and worldview than Trump.
“I come from the Ronald Reagan school of politics,” Hogan said last week in a wide-ranging interview at the state capitol, shaking his head in disapproval when asked whether he shares Trump’s nationalism.
He said groups such as the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, a frequent target of Trump’s ire, are “critically important.” He expressed alarm about the way the president is “not standing by or standing up for some of our allies,” and he poked fun at Trump’s competence.
“For a guy who wrote a book ‘The Art of the Deal,’ he’s just not making good deals,” Hogan said with a laugh. “Sometimes, he’s his own worst enemy, and there is a better way to accomplish things.”
Playing the “I’m more of a Reagan Republican” card is the polite way of saying that one of our most successful (and beloved) GOP presidents was from California and held some fairly RINOish positions himself back in the day. That may be true to a certain extent (at the very least, Reagan was definitely from California), but Hogan isn’t cut from that cloth. He doesn’t just find compromises or artful deals to get what he wants out of the Democratic majority in his state. He fully embraces many Democratic policies and has done so to the point where he has an above water approval rating with Democratic voters in Maryland. The moment he stepped foot in South Carolina they’d eat him for lunch.
I notice that he also stopped being so polite about his disagreements with the President during this interview. Taking shots at him over dealmaking and cracking jokes at Trump’s expense could be taken as another indicator that he’s thinking of running. Further, criticizing Trump’s supposed refusal to “stand by our allies” is a boilerplate globalist mantra, sure to win applause from the anti-Trump crowd.
But even for all that, let’s keep in mind that Hogan was once again asked the question(s) by reporters. He didn’t call a presser to suggest he was forming a national campaign team or announcing anything. He’s being egged on by a liberal press corps that would dearly love to see a centrist Republican try to divide the party by starting a civil war with Trump.
We should also keep in mind that Hogan is term-limited so he won’t be running for Governor again in four years. At the same time, his national prospects are limited at best. If his health issues are truly behind him, I suppose he might consider a Senate bid if he’s not ready to retire. Chris Van Hollen’s seat will be up for grabs in 2022, just as Hogan is packing up to leave the Governor’s mansion. If any Republican could win that seat it would be Hogan, and he wouldn’t need much support from the national GOP to make a legitimate run at it. He probably knows he can afford to taunt Trump a little for now and not pay much of a price for it down the line.