Maryland Dems Will Try to Use Abortion to Thwart Larry Hogan

AP Photo/Patrick Semansky, File

Earlier this month, I wrote about the strange and unhelpful timing (at least for the GOP) of former Maryland Governor Larry Hogan's decision to mount a Senate bid. The announcement caused a bit of a panic among Democrats who are desperately scrambling to try to maintain their razor-thin majority in the upper chamber. After all, despite being a Republican, Hogan had turned out to be one of the most popular governors in the blue state of Maryland in modern history. Would they be able to stop him this time? Well, as I previously pointed out, there is a significant difference between a gubernatorial campaign and a Senate campaign in American politics today. And the Maryland Democrats think they've hit upon the poison pill that will halt Hogan in his tracks. They'll go after him on the issue of abortion, just as they are attempting to do all across the country. (Baltimore Sun)

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The television ad displayed a photo of an unsmiling Larry Hogan alongside oversized words that the Republican “opposes a woman’s right to choose.”

The 30-second, Democratic-produced commercial aimed to remind voters of anti-abortion statements made by Hogan, 67, more than 30 years earlier. It’s the sort of attack ad that could appear this year as Maryland Democrats seek to derail Hogan’s U.S. Senate candidacy.

Except that the ad is from the 2014 gubernatorial campaign. Hogan, who said the “disgraceful” spot misrepresented his position, went on to defeat Democrat Anthony Brown, now Maryland’s attorney general, and serve the first of his two four-year terms in Annapolis.

If this countercampaign against Hogan were based on historical facts and accuracy, it likely wouldn't even get off the ground. Attacking Hogan for his historical position on abortion is a daunting task because he really doesn't have much of a record in that regard. He never moved to crack down on abortion in Maryland during his eight years as governor. It's true that in 1981 (!), during Hogan's first unsuccessful run for Congress, he expressed "support" for a constitutional amendment that would have granted civil rights to the unborn from the moment of fertilization. But he lost his primary election and never had the chance to vote on the amendment which didn't pass anyway. Beyond that, all he's really said is that he personally opposes abortion, but he wouldn't use the power of the government to impose his will on women in that fashion. The same would likely hold true in the Senate.

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But we all know that political campaigns these days are rarely if ever based on accuracy or historical facts in evidence. All that matters is the optics involved and the political opportunity to "seize the moment." The Democrats are running on abortion because in 2024 they have nothing else to run on. But it's proven to be a political winner for them before. They will paint Larry Hogan as a MAGA monster waiting in the wings for an opportunity to lock up pregnant women and abortion doctors, despite that being a wholly inaccurate depiction of his record.

At the same time, their fears may not be entirely unfounded. As Governor, Hogan didn't have the ability to introduce or force through anti-abortion legislation in Maryland and the strong Democratic majority in the legislature would never have gone along with it if he tried. (He never tried.) But if he were to take the 50th or 51st Senate seat for the Republicans, he would be placed in a prime position to cast the deciding vote in some form of federal legislation imposing new restrictions on the procedure at the national level. We can ignore for now the fact that no such legislation is currently being seriously considered in Washington. That's irrelevant to this discussion. Again, for Maryland's Democrats, this is all about fearmongering, not reality.

But the very threat of even that hypothetical possibility might be enough to do the trick for Maryland's Democrats. Hogan poses no threat to the status quo as either the Governor or a retired politician. But as a Senator, the possibility rears its head. And that's the poison pill that they will feed to the voters from now until the election in November. It may well turn out to be a far closer election than either of Hogan's gubernatorial runs and at least in my view, victory is far from assured for him.

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David Strom 6:40 PM | April 18, 2024
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