Maybe Larry Hogan is thinking of a run at Trump after all

Just to clarify the headline a bit, he’s not suggesting that he’ll “run train” on Trump, which would be something very different and, frankly, just awkward.

This story has been getting a lot of play in the past couple of weeks and it’s showing no signs of going away. Is Maryland Governor Larry Hogan weighing a primary challenge to Donald Trump in 2020? When the story first broke I wrote it off as “other people’s ideas” and not Hogans. There were plenty of reasons to believe that, starting with the fact that up until his recent inauguration for another term, you were hard pressed to find a case where he even mentioned Trump’s name.

Yesterday Politico dredged it up yet again and Allahpundit dug a bit deeper into the “interesting” aspects of the possibility. I agree with AP that Hogan is a rare sort of “oatmeal-ey” Republican who manages to stand out as one of the most popular governors in the country, despite being in a very blue state. (He’s pretty much tied with his equally mushy GOP colleague in Massachusettes.)

Now the Baltimore Sun has picked up the ball and run with it as well. They point out a few factors which just might indicate that there’s some actual flame under all this smoke. One Washington think-tank, NeverTrump honcho is really buttering Hogan up in an effort to get him to make the leap. And he’s eliciting a few comments from Hogan that make it sound like it could be more than just fantasy.

Jerry Taylor, the founder of the Niskanen Center in Washington, said in an interview with The Baltimore Sun that he’s been trying to persuade Hogan to run — and the governor hasn’t turned him down.

“The increasing interest on Governor Hogan’s part in what’s going on in Washington, D.C., is encouraging,” said Taylor, a former senior fellow at the libertarian Cato Institute. “It’s clear to me he’s been thinking about it more than in the past. But he hasn’t made any decision yet.”

A day after his second inauguration as governor, Hogan said he intended to finish his four-year term.

“That is certainly the plan at this point, but you never know what’s going to happen,” Hogan said Thursday.

So at this point, Hogan has gone from “I’m going to finish my four-year term” to… “that’s certainly the plan at this point, but you never know.” Does this mean that he’s seriously thinking about it? It would be the easiest thing in the world for Governor Hogan to answer any reporter’s question by saying that he’s flattered people would consider him but he’s happy where he is and will not be running.

Another factor to consider is that Hogan isn’t just starting his second term. He’s starting his last term, at least for the immediate future. He’s term-limited and will be out of office after the 2022 elections. That might prompt us to think he’s considering his long term future. But let’s also remember that Hogan is already 62 and just made his way past a major health scare. He seems in good shape now, but is he really ready for the rigors of a presidential bid and possibly four to eight years on the hot seat in the Oval Office?

Frankly, I’m still not seeing it. Hogan is a pragmatist and he surely realizes, as Allahpundit pointed out last night, he has zero chance of beating Trump in a primary. Plus, if he ditched Maryland to spend all of his time campaigning for the presidency (after saying he would finish his term) he’d sacrifice much of the goodwill he’s built up with his constituents. If anything, he’s more likely be considering a 2024 run no matter who wins next year.

Here’s an alternate theory. Hogan is a human being like the rest of us and I’m sure it’s a boost to his ego and quite flattering to see his name being bandied about as a POTUS contender. Perhaps, just for the time being, he’s content to let the rumormongers feed stories about him to the political press and have reporters trailing after him awaiting his next comment. I don’t say that as an insult. There’s nothing wrong with it at all. But it doesn’t mean that he’s going to be forming an exploratory committee any time soon.