Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan, one of the most popular governors in the country, is being courted as a possible presidential candidate by the never-Trump wing of the Republican Party — and is weighing a 2020 bid.
Hogan, 62, won reelection to a second term in November, soundly defeating Democratic challenger Ben Jealous even as a blue wave swept the nation, including downballot races in Hogan’s liberal-leaning state.
The day after his historic victory (he is only the second GOP governor in Maryland to be reelected), Hogan said he won because “he didn’t govern as a Republican” during his first term.
He largely steered away from culturally divisive social issues such as abortion. He sided with Democrats on several gun-control measures, including bills to ban bump stocks, keep guns away from domestic abusers, and allow a court to remove firearms from those who pose an immediate and present danger to themselves or others. And he has pushed for free community college in Maryland and to ban fracking in the state.
A longtime critic of President Trump’s divisive rhetoric and some of his personal behavior, Hogan has spoken out against the president on issues including health care, the prolonged government shutdown (though he also blames Congress) and funding for the Chesapeake Bay.
In December, Hogan opened a conference for the Niskanen Center, a Washington think tank with libertarian leanings, about the future of the GOP. He said the Republican losses in the midterm elections were evidence that the party’s national model was failing, and he pledged to be a part of the discussion about moving the party, and the country, forward.
“Compromise and moderation should not be considered dirty words,” he told the group.
Hogan, the incoming chair of the National Governors Association, touts his work with Maryland Democrats as a model for the country to follow. But a review of his first-term record shows Hogan has been both partisan (calling political opponents “thugs” and taking credit for Democratic initiatives) and bipartisan (forging compromises on criminal justice reform and lowering health-care premiums) over the past four years.
He plans to meet soon with leading anti-Trump Republicans Bill Kristol and Sarah Longwell, who are polling Republican voters and consulting with donors, trying to gauge support for a non-Trump GOP candidate in 2020. And Hogan plans to hold political meetings while in Iowa in March for NGA business, and to travel to New Hampshire in the near future as well.
Hogan, who worked as a real estate developer before launching his grass-roots campaign for governor, stunned the Democratic establishment in 2014 when he defeated then-Lt. Gov. Anthony G. Brown. He focused his campaign on regulations and high taxes, arguing that the burden of both were forcing businesses and residents to flee the state.
The governor got his start in politics in the late 1970s, working as an aide to his father, Lawrence Hogan Sr, who then served as Prince George’s County executive.
Hogan Sr. had served three terms in Congress and was the first Republican member of the U.S. House Judiciary Committee to call for President Richard M. Nixon’s impeachment.
The younger Hogan says he did not vote for Trump or Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton in 2016, instead writing in his father’s name.
Hogan garnered national attention in 2015, just months after taking office, when he deployed 2,000 National Guard members to Baltimore to stop the violence following the funeral of Freddie Gray, who died a week after suffering injuries while in police custody.
About a month later, Hogan announced he was diagnosed with stage 3 non-Hodgkins lymphoma. He worked during his 18 weeks of intensive chemotherapy treatment. In November 2015, he said he was cancer free.