I’m not sure if this is an idea that’s gaining traction in the NeverTrump camps or if it’s just one local newspaper trying to generate some buzz. The Baltimore Sun is featuring a story this week about Maryland Republican Governor Larry Hogan’s inauguration for his next term and playing up the fact that Jeb Bush will be attending. The underlying message here – in fact, the reporter comes right out and says it – is that Hogan is a “rising star” in the anti-Trump GOP ranks and there’s talk of him considering a primary run against the President.
Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush will travel to Annapolis to serve as the featured speaker at Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan’s inauguration Wednesday — a move that will put two favorites of anti-Trump Republicans on stage together.
As so-called “Never Trump” Republicans search for a candidate to challenge the president in 2020, some have been urging Hogan to run. The governor has largely demurred, saying he’s focused on running the state, while not definitively ruling it out.
But the announcement of Bush — the son and brother of presidents who has battled Trump publicly — as a featured speaker underscored the belief among political observers that Hogan is becoming a rising figure in the wing of party that does not embrace the president.
This type of cheerleading may not be indicative of anything the governor is thinking or saying for himself. I’m sure he’s honored to have someone from the Bush family show up, but it’s probably not indicative of some big move on the horizon. Rather than being “anti-Trump” for the past two years, Hogan has been fastidious in basically refusing to even mention the President or take a side in all the Washington controversy. It’s true that he blamed Trump for some down-ballot losses in Maryland after the last election (where the President’s approval rating is almost in negative numbers) but that’s about it. For the most part, he’s remained focused on getting things done in Maryland and leaving the swamp to tend to itself.
But let’s indulge the folks in Baltimore and say that Hogan was considering such an idea. Do you really think he could carry a significant part of the base in a primary fight? The reason Hogan is so popular in a deep blue state like Maryland is that he’s at best a serious RINO. Running for national office or even a state race in a more purple or red area, Hogan would quickly find himself in hot water. He’s barely keeping a “C” rating with the NRA, particularly after signing a host of new gun control laws last year.
It’s not just the gun control issue, either. Hogan signed more than 500 bills put together by the Democratic majority in the legislature last spring. These included things such as free college tuition and a raft of education bills that have the teachers unions almost ready to give him their endorsement.
As Governor, Larry Hogan has done a good job holding the line on taxes and maintained a solid, fiscal conservative reputation. He’s eked out the small victories for conservatism that were possible in such a blue state, but his record as a full-throated conservative is mostly nonexistent. Hogan works for Maryland and keeps the governor’s mansion in GOP hands precisely because he’s a good fit for Maryland. And he should stay there and keep up the good work he’s been doing because he would be a spectacular failure in attempting to primary Donald Trump.