Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan (R), the symbolic head of the Maryland Republican Party, will not attend the state GOP’s annual fundraiser in Glen Burnie Friday night featuring Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker (R).
Margot Crouch, finance director for the state party, said Hogan is out of town and “won’t be able to make it back in time” for the Red, White and Blue, the party’s major dinner of the year.
Doug Mayer, a spokesman for Hogan, said the popular governor would miss the annual event “due to a personal scheduling conflict.” He said Hogan, whose approval rating is hovering around 70 percent, traveled by train to New York on Thursday for an economic development meeting and is expected back on Friday.
The spokesman would not give more details about Hogan’s trip, which was not included on the governor’s public schedule.
Hogan tweeted Friday morning that he toured the New York Stock Exchange and met with President Tom Farley and “saw the exchange behind the scenes.”
Officials with Change Maryland, Hogan’s campaign, did not return calls Friday seeking comment.
Joe Cluster, executive director of the Maryland Republican Party, said Walker offered only one date for an appearance in Maryland, and the party didn’t want to turn him down after scheduling conflicts had prevented booking him for the past several years.
“When I called his staff to let them know,” Cluster said of Hogan, “they said something was already on his schedule ... We’d turned Walker down a couple times, and I wasn’t going to do it a third time.”
It is the second year in a row that Hogan has missed the party’s big fundraiser.
The governor was unable to attend last year’s dinner, when future GOP presidential nominee Donald Trump was the guest speaker, because he was undergoing chemotherapy. The event was marked as a big success, raising $100,000 for the state party.
Hogan riled some members of the state party by clearly distancing himself from Trump during the Republican presidential primaries earlier this year. He has said he does not think Trump is a good candidate, he did not attend the nominating convention in Cleveland, and he has pledged not to vote for him in November.
A Washington Post-SurveyMonkey poll released this week shows Trump trails Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton in heavily Democratic Maryland by 30 points.
Friday night’s fundraiser costs $125 for general admission tickets and $300 for VIP tickets. Party officials estimate that they will raise about $55,000.
Members of the state employees’ union said they plan to protest Walker’s appearance, because the governor battled against unions in Wisconsin and, while running for president, proposed abolishing unions for federal workers.
“Scott Walker is the most anti-working-family governor in America,” Jeff Pittman, a spokesman for AFSME, said in an email. “Maryland working families are disappointed that Gov. Larry Hogan would invite such a divisive figure to our state to raise money for his political party.”