Larry Hogan for Senate?

Larry Hogan for Senate?
(AP Photo/Patrick Semansky, File)

Maryland Governor Larry Hogan is in the final stretch of two very successful terms in office since he is term-limited at this point. So what comes next? Hogan is 65 years old and he’s had some health scares in the past, so he could be forgiven if he simply decided to take up golf and go spend more time with his family. But he certainly hasn’t been acting like a horse that’s ready to head for the barn. There have been repeated rumors that he’s thinking about a 2024 presidential run (rumors that he’s done nothing to tamp down), but he hasn’t made any official announcements about his future plans yet.

If one of the options he’s considering is a run to replace Democratic Senator Chris Van Hollen this year, there is some good news for Hogan in the latest polling. As the Daily Caller reported yesterday, Hogan appears to have a dominant, double-digit lead over the incumbent senator. There’s no such thing as a surefire bet for a Republican running in a blue state, but if anyone could pull this feat off, it would probably be Hogan.

An internal poll shows Republican Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan with a big lead in a hypothetical 2022 Senate matchup with Democratic incumbent Chris Van Hollen.

Maryland will elect a new governor in 2022 as Hogan becomes term-limited out of office, and the popular governor has not yet announced his next move. An internal poll shared with the Daily Caller found that, if he chooses to run for Senate, Hogan would currently lead Van Hollen by a 49%-37% margin.

While a Senate run has not been ruled out by Hogan, others have speculated he will instead opt to run for president in 2024.

Hogan is in a rather unique position in terms of American politics and if he doesn’t let his reach exceed his grasp he likely has some options in front of him. Democrats still dominate the political scene in Maryland, but Hogan has managed to frustrate his opponents at every turn. He won both of his gubernatorial races handily, even in a state that Joe Biden carried by 33 points. He has one of the highest approval ratings of any governor in the country and in very blue Maryland, his approval rating among Black voters is close to 80%.

He’s also peaking at a time when his policies are quite appealing to his constituents. Maryland Democrats were among those looking to “defund the police” in recent years,” but crime rates, particularly in Baltimore, have been out of control. Hogan recently launched a proposal to “refund the police” and restore law and order. Democrats howled about it, but 88% of Black voters were in favor of it, along with 89 and 74 percent of white and Hispanic voters, respectively. It sounds as if a Senate seat might be well within his reach.

But Hogan has seemed to fancy himself a potential presidential contender. That strikes me as a vast overreach. The reason that Larry Hogan is so popular as a Republican in Maryland is that he’s not the sort of conservative you would find in the GOP ranks in other parts of the country. Hogan’s popularity would absolutely not translate into the southern, far more conservative red states, and probably not that well in the midwest, either. Hogan wins in Maryland because he’s politically built for the environment in Maryland.

If Hogan waits for the 2024 presidential primary to make a move, the opportunity to snap up Van Hollen’s Senate seat will be gone. Ben Cardin’s seat is up again in 2024, but if Hogan is busy running for President he won’t be in that race either. His next shot wouldn’t be until 2028 when he would already be in his seventies. Meanwhile, for the reasons I mentioned above, I think it’s highly unlikely that Hogan would gain much traction in a GOP presidential primary. He simply has too many “moderate” positions and votes on his record that his opponents could use to blow him up.

This would be an incredible opportunity for the GOP to pick up a Senate seat in a very blue state just as a red wave seems to be forming for this November. It would be a shame to see it slip away, only for Hogan to come up holding an empty bag in the aftermath. He should probably consider this opportunity carefully.

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