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Hogan calls teachers union officials ‘thugs’ on Facebook

Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan (R) (Bill O'Leary/The Washington Post)

Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan (R) called them “thugs.”

And now members of the state teachers union are comparing Hogan to Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump and New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (R).

Hogan used the controversial word on his Facebook page to describe teachers union officials who disagreed with a recent budget decision he made to save, rather than spend, some funds.

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“We provided record funding two years in a row and protected your pensions,” Hogan said in a reply to a post on his page. “Don’t believe this phony ‘cut’ propaganda from the union thugs.”

Doug Mayer, a spokesman for the governor, said it was “preposterous” to compare Hogan to Trump.

Mayer said the word was directed at the “paid political operatives and lobbyists” of the teachers union who have “waged a full-time campaign dedicated to misinforming Marylanders about Governor Hogan’s record of historic funding in K-12 education.”

Mayer continued: “The governor has great love and respect for Maryland’s hard-working teachers and all the things they do for our students.”

Hogan was defending a decision he made last week not to spend money the legislature has set aside to help local governments fund teacher pensions.

The governor was responding to an online post by Jeremy Walker, who criticized the governor for withholding the money.

“For the second year in a row, Gov. Hogan is withholding school funding despite budget surpluses. Last year, he withheld $68 million; this year, it’s another $25 million that could have been spent addressing overcrowded schools, lowering class sizes, and providing students and educators the support they need to be successful,” Walker wrote on Hogan’s original post about spending $6.3 billion on K-12 education.

Hogan has repeatedly tried to distance himself from Trump. And for the most part, he has had little to say about Christie since the New Jersey governor endorsed Trump after leaving the race for the GOP presidential nomination.

But Chris Lloyd, an elementary school teacher and president of the Montgomery County teachers union, said Saturday that many of his colleagues are drawing parallels to Christie and Trump in Hogan’s description of union officials.

“It’s disappointing, especially as teachers are getting prepared to go back to school,” Lloyd said. “It’s disappointing to get to a level of name calling. Using the word is a stereotype of how we view teachers who are active and engaged in their union. . . . It is his right to advocate for what he thinks is right and it is our right to do the same, but we should never resort to name calling or classifying whole groups of people into negative images.”