LEONARDTOWN, Md. — Gov.-elect Larry Hogan (R) said Tuesday that his transition team is working hard to “put a government together” but that he does not plan to talk publicly about substantive policy issues until he is sworn in.
Hogan’s message to those trying to figure out his stances on issues such as whether to move forward with the light-rail Purple Line between Bethesda and New Carrollton: “They should just keep on guessing, because I’m going to be governor Jan. 21, and we will start talking about policy then.”
Hogan spoke to reporters at a Veterans Day parade in St. Mary’s County, his first public appearance since the morning after his decisive upset over Lt. Gov. Anthony G. Brown (D). “We’ve got 21 / 2 months,” Hogan said of his transition period. “And we are going to make sure we get it done right.”
The Republican, who owns a real estate company in Anne Arundel County, was ebullient as he dashed from one side of the parade route to the other, receiving a hero’s welcome.
He won nearly 73 percent of the vote in St. Mary’s, a largely rural county about 45 miles southeast of Washington. Aides said he will visit every county in coming months as part of a “thank-you tour.”
“One of the reasons why we were successful in this race is that we talked to real people every day, tens of thousands of them from every single county across the state,” Hogan said. “I am not going to be off in an ivory tower in Annapolis. We are going to get out and talk with people as much as we can.”
Hogan is scheduled to have breakfast in Prince George’s County on Wednesday morning with Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller Jr. (D-Calvert), whom Hogan has known since his youth. The governor-elect and House Speaker Michael E. Busch (D-Anne Arundel) have a meeting scheduled Thursday.
Hogan has a transition office at the state’s Department of Natural Resources headquarters, just outside downtown Annapolis, and space in a downtown Baltimore office building.
But he and his aides so far have met privately at his campaign office in Annapolis. Hogan has spent a lot of time on the phone, aides said, thanking supporters and seeking advice.
“I’ve gotten thousands of calls and texts and e-mails and text messages. People are reaching out from all over the place,” Hogan said. “But we’re just going to carefully go about the order of business of transition.”
Hogan took a couple of days off after the election, aides said, and will fly to Denver this weekend for a “Seminar for New Governors” offered by the National Governors Association.
In coming weeks, Hogan is expected to announce his senior staff and about two dozen members of his Cabinet.
He has promised to build a bipartisan team to replace the top level of the administration of outgoing Gov. Martin O’Malley (D).
Del. Anthony J. O’Donnell (R-Calvert), a Navy veteran who also marched in the parade, said Hogan deserves time to pull his administration together, particularly given the change in political parties.
“Everyone thinks it’s a week after the election and everything should be set,” O’Donnell said. “But it takes a little longer than that. . . . We’re talking about a lot of moving parts.”
In addition to the parade, the governor-elect participated in a solemn wreath-laying ceremony with other politicians, including Rep. Steny H. Hoyer (D-Md.), and with the families of three slain soldiers from St. Mary’s: Army Spec. Raymond J. Faulstich, Army Sgt. Ryan Patrick Baumann and Army Cpl. Matthew P. Wallace.
The mood stood in stark contrast to the upbeat atmosphere of the parade a short time earlier.
Parades were a campaign staple for Hogan, who often sprinted along routes to meet as many prospective voters as possible, saying he was running for governor. His staff learned to pack extra polo shirts so the sweat-drenched candidate could change between events.
On Tuesday, he at first said he would walk but quickly broke into a run, high-fiving children, petting dogs, signing autographs and posing for photos.
At one point, trailed by his new security entourage, he dashed down the middle of the street, both hands up in the air and waving to the cheering crowd.
“First time in so long that my vote counted,” a woman shouted as soon as she saw him. “Thanks! We are so excited!”
“You’re going to do great things,” another woman told him as he shook her hand.
Hogan responded: “We’re going to try our best.”
“You did it!” said a guy in the crowd.
“We did it,” Hogan told him.
As Hogan ran into the downtown square, the parade announcer appropriated his campaign motto: “Change has come to Maryland.”
By then, the governor-elect had sweated through his dress shirt. Luckily, he had another on hand.