The magic formula of Larry Hogan probably can't be replicated

There are plenty of nervous federal government officials on both sides of the aisle as the midterms approach. That goes for the state level also, particularly in the more purple shaded areas. But as the Washington Times was reporting last night, there’s always an exception to the rule and that can be found in the person of the Republican governor of the very blue state of Maryland. Even though Democrats outnumber Republicans by at least a two to one margin and there are plenty of primary contenders spoiling for a chance to take him on, Larry Hogan seems for all the world to be a politician without a care in the world. And why would he be worried? He’s sitting on ten times the campaign war chest of any Democrat poised to challenge him and he has an approval rating normally reserved for puppies.

Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan is lapping the Democratic field at the close of the fundraising books ahead of the June 26 primaries, as he is sitting on close to $10 million in cash for his re-election bid compared with about $600,000 for his nearest potential competitors.

Since winning in a stunning upset in 2014, Mr. Hogan has consistently championed themes tied to jobs and economic growth, along with lower taxes and less government regulation after years of one-party Democratic rule in Maryland, to score eye-popping approval ratings that would be the envy of just about any other governor in the country.

Despite national anti-Republican headwinds and a crowded field of Democratic contenders eager to take him on after their primary contest next week, political handicappers are forecasting another Hogan win in the fall. That would make Mr. Hogan the first Republican governor in Maryland to win re-election in about 60 years.

Maryland Democrats are still clinging to the idea that Donald Trump will drive their voters to the polls in huge numbers to vote out every Republican in sight, so they should be able to remove Hogan. But Larry Hogan didn’t cruise into office at the head of some sort of red wave in Maryland. Voters there were splitting tickets to vote for him. And since that time he’s completely distanced himself from Trump and the goings on in Washington. He promised to be at the helm of a state economy where things would go well, people would have jobs and the government would work. Thus far, while he’s clearly benefited from the upward national trends in employment and income, he’s delivering on those promises. With the exception of the ongoing murder crisis in Baltimore, things across Maryland do indeed seem to be going well.

In the most recent round of polling, Hogan was sitting on a 68% approval rating. Nobody gets 68% anymore. That’s just incredible. But Hogan has been able to manage it by keeping all politics local. Unfortunately, that’s why the GOP is unlikely to be able to reproduce his success elsewhere with other candidates. Everyone coming onto the scene today is being grilled as to whether they are for or against Trump or if they support this or that policy of the president. Hogan got into office before all of this blew up at the national level and now can simply shrug off such questions, saying that they have little to do with running Maryland efficiently.

Of course, this also means that he’s pretty much entirely ineligible for national office, but I rather doubt he cares about that at the moment. Hogan has a good thing going in Maryland right now and likely sees no reason to bail out.