This is becoming something of a recurring ritual in American politics at this point. It’s been an established fact for some time now that Maryland’s Republican Governor, Larry Hogan, is among the most popular governors in the country. His approval numbers consistently stay up in the 60s, sometimes going even higher. This fact is made all the more remarkable when you consider how completely blue his state is. His prolonged period of success causes considerable consternation to Maryland Democrats, but there’s not much they can do about it.
Hogan’s continued popularity has led to periodic bursts of media speculation, wondering if he might be preparing for a presidential bid. Hogan is term-limited so he can’t run for a third consecutive term in 2022, That would make him available to hit the presidential campaign trail at the perfect time, just as the runup to the 2024 elections are kicking off. But would he? He’s recently been saying and doing things one might expect from a prospective candidate, including publishing a new memoir and casting his vote this year for the Ghost of Ronald Reagan. The Baltimore Sun broke down the argument for a President Hogan this weekend, though Hogan remains mum on the subject.
For months, the Republican governor has been honing his talking points about dysfunction in Washington and the need for political leaders to set aside partisanship to work for the greater good. He’s made his pitch in national TV interviews and, more recently, on the campaign trail for GOP candidates in other states — as he did last week when he appeared live from Annapolis at an event for the governor of Vermont.
Add his targeted criticisms of President Donald Trump, a refusal to support U.S. Supreme Court nominee Amy Coney Barrett, the publishing of a political memoir, and his write-in vote for Ronald Reagan for president, and some say Hogan looks like a man with an eye on the White House.
Hogan is in his second four-year term as governor and is barred by term limits for running again once his term is up in January 2023. He’s been floated as a potential candidate for the U.S. Senate in the 2022 election or for president in 2024.
Larry Hogan gets asked this question all the time and his answer is almost always the same. It’s not something I’ve given much thought to. He probably enjoys all of the attention the subject brings, but he also strikes me as a rather practical and pragmatic person who likely knows that such an effort would likely be doomed.
The pitch for Hogan has become familiar by now. He’s pretty much the opposite of Donald Trump, making him appealing to NeverTrumpers and moderates. Where Trump is brash and aggressive, Hogan is quiet and urges bipartisan consensus. Trump portrays himself as the scourge of American Liberals. Hogan calls for a bigger tent and more inclusivity. So it’s probably natural that some people who have been put off by Donald Trump’s style might see some potential in Hogan.
But at the same time, keep in mind that Larry Hogan isn’t really even what you would call a “moderate Republican” anywhere else in the country. In order to maintain the support he receives in a state with so few conservatives and Republicans, Hogan has governed basically like a Democrat, albeit a more moderate one. He has a record that he would need to defend on the national stage if he launched a presidential primary bid. He’s signed bills into law on issues ranging from gun control to abortion that GOP voters in plenty of states would find objectionable. The Republican primary races to the right. Larry Hogan is far, far out of that lane.
And that’s really his major problem. In reality, I’ll admit that a moderate like Hogan might do fairly well in the general election, particularly if he were paired up against a particularly extreme socialist-leaning liberal. But in order to get there, he’d need to win the primary first. I’d say the odds of that happening are slim to none, and I’m betting that Larry Hogan already knows this.