The burgeoning bromance between Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan and New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie continues.
On Wednesday, Hogan gave his friend and fellow blue-state Republican governor his “enthusiastic” support in his bid for the GOP nomination for president.
Christie had done the same last year for Hogan when he mounted a long-shot campaign against then-Lt. Gov. Anthony G. Brown.
As the two walked into Double T Diner in Annapolis, where Hogan introduced Christie to patrons chomping on bacon, eggs and hash browns, each lauded the other for the work they have done in their respective states.
Hogan later said he and Christie are “kindred spirits.” He said the two are both straight talkers, which is one of the reasons, he said, he admires Christie.
“People say I’m pretty blunt and say exactly what I think,” Hogan said. “That’s probably why we’re kindred spirits because he does the same thing. Most politicians don’t do that.”
The two were introduced by Russell J. Schriefer, a longtime Christie adviser who lives in the Maryland suburbs of Washington and worked as a consultant for Hogan.
Schriefer once called the pair “two peas in a pod.”
Since their introduction, the two men have formed a strong relationship, built on mutual respect, they say.
Christie said he marveled at how Hogan handled the unrest in Baltimore, working with city and community leaders to bring calm, and at Hogan’s candid response to his recent cancer diagnosis and the “real courage” he has shown since.
Hogan said Christie has worked across the aisle to move New Jersey forward.
“He’s the one who has the ability to pull away from the pack,” Hogan said of Christie’s presidential campaign. “I think he’s the kind of guy that can attract Independents and Democrats, as I have in Maryland, as he’s done in New Jersey. We need someone who has actually run something . . . A lot of these other guys don’t have that experience.”
The relationship between the two has gone beyond politics.
Christie has not only been an adviser to Hogan, but he has been a shoulder to lean on in recent weeks.
When the riots broke out in Baltimore after the death of Freddie Gray, Christie was one of the first people to call Hogan to offer advice.
And the day Hogan publicly disclosed that he was diagnosed with Stage 3 non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, Christie called him. They talked for nearly an hour.
And when Christie was about to head onstage last month to announce his presidential candidacy, he paused to text Hogan, who was undergoing his first round of chemotherapy treatment.
He told him that he was thinking of him and praying for him. Christie and his wife, Mary Pat, wore lime green #hoganstrong bracelets on their wrists as they headed on stage. Christie recently posted a video to YouTube saying he doesn’t plan to take off the bracelet until doctors tell “his friend” that he is in remission.
Christie said Hogan was in the hospital undergoing chemotherapy and “he’s texting me right back with his ideas, with his encouragement, with his support.”
“He’s a tremendous friend,” Hogan said Wednesday.
Both men share a similar experience in their roads to the governor’s office.
Neither was expected to win their bids while facing well-financed Democratic incumbents in heavily Democratic states. Christie knocked off then-Gov. Jon Corzine, and Hogan defeated Brown.
Christie played an instrumental role in Hogan’s surprise victory in November. The New Jersey governor made a half-dozen appearances in Maryland that helped boost Hogan’s long-shot campaign, and he secured funding from the Republican Governors Association, which Christie led at the time.
Christie’s appearances raised Hogan’s profile, the Maryland governor said. His involvement led to other high-profile GOP politicians, including Tom Ridge, the former Pennsylvania governor, helping Hogan to raise funds.
“I would not be governor of Maryland without this guy right here,” Hogan said.
Hogan said he will do whatever it takes to return the favor in Christie’s bid for president.
Christie said he welcomed Hogan’s support, realizing that it comes with help in organizing and fundraising.
But, Christie said he was happy to “have a friend that is willing to support you and encourage you. These are long days and long weeks and long months when you’re running for president, and to have a friend like this who understands it means a lot.”