A reception for the Republican legislative caucus in Maryland on Tuesday, the eve of the opening of the General Assembly, was part victory party and part pep rally.
And at center stage was the star of the team: Gov.-elect Larry Hogan (R).
“We thought it would never happen,” Hogan said to sustained applause from the crowd of state and county elected officials, including four of the state’s five Republican county executives. “The voters decided to put Maryland on a new path.”
Hogan told the crowd of nearly 100 people that they were part of the “biggest minority luncheon caucus we have ever had” and he couldn’t wait for the day when the room was too small to hold all of its members.
Hogan invited all of them to “a little swearing in” that he would participate in on Jan. 21 and then instructed them that the next day “we’re going to roll up our sleeves and get to work.
“The problems are serious, but so is our resolve to fix them,” he said.
Before Hogan’s three-minute speech, lawmakers ate beef tenderloin, herb chicken, scalloped potatoes and a salad with vinaigrette dressing and took every opportunity to greet Hogan. The governor-elect stood between the U.S. flag and the Maryland flag in a room in the Senate building in Annapolis, hugging and posing for pictures with lawmakers.
House Minority Leader Nicholaus R. Kipke (R-Anne Arundel), who presented Hogan, told the governor elect that “we have the fighting 50 now to serve you,” referring to the number of Republicans serving in the House.
“Our team is ready to work for you,” he said. “We’re all in.”
Del. Anthony J. O’Donnell (R-Calvert) said there was a great deal of excitement for Republicans as the session begins on Wednesday.
“People are just hopeful that we can get some good things done,” he said.
U.S. Rep. Andy Harris (R), a former state senator, said “what a difference a couple of years make. . . We are victorious.”
The crowd cheered.
Earlier in the day, House Republicans reelected Nicholaus R. Kipke (R-Anne Arundel) as House Minority Leader and Del. Kathy Szeliga (R-Baltimore County) as House Minority Whip.