Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan leads Democratic challenger Ben Jealous in the polls. (Patrick Semansky/AP)

U.S. Senate candidate Neal Simon, who is running as an independent, endorsed Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan (R) for reelection Thursday, citing the popular governor’s record of cutting taxes and fees and of protecting the Chesapeake Bay.

Simon is challenging Sen. Benjamin L. Cardin, a Democrat who has represented Maryland in Congress for more than 30 years. In a statement, Simon said Hogan has worked “across the aisle to find common ground” and “stayed true to his promise to govern from the center.”

Hogan, who is leading Democratic challenger Ben Jealous by double digits, has not endorsed anyone in the Senate race. He signed a nominating petition for Simon at the 42nd annual J. Millard Tawes Crab and Clam Bake in Crisfield, Md., this summer.

Cardin held a nearly 40-point lead in a Goucher College poll released last month and a 28-point lead in a poll released last week by Gonzales Research & Media Services. He has brought in significantly more money in recent months than his challengers, including Republican Tony Campbell,

Also on the ballot is Libertarian Arvin Vohra, who earned 1 percent in the Goucher Poll and is not accepting donations.

Simon, a financial-services executive from Potomac, has said he was inspired to run by a group called Unite America, previously known as the Centrist Project, which argues that a few independent senators acting as a bloc could force both parties to the middle instead of their partisan extremes.

Senate candidate Neal Simon (I) said Hogan had “stayed true to his promise to govern from the center.” (Matt McClain/The Washington Post)

At an Oct. 7 debate, Simon dismissed Cardin as “part of the problem” in Washington, criticizing the veteran politician for voting with his party “97 percent of the time.”

Hogan has drawn strong support from independents and many Democrats as he seeks to become the first Republican governor reelected in Maryland since 1954.

On Thursday, the Democratic state’s attorney in Dorchester County, William Jones, endorsed him, joining a list of Democratic officials that includes outgoing state Sen. Jim Brochin (Baltimore County) and the mayors of Bowie, Gaithersburg and Salisbury.