Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan (R) says he was able to withstand Democratic anger at President Trump and soundly defeat challenger Ben Jealous in a deep-blue state because he “didn’t govern as a Republican.”
“I was the governor for all the people,” Hogan said at a news conference Wednesday at the Maryland State House, blaming anti-Trump sentiment for “a tough night” for Republicans in which several down-ballot candidates lost key races.
“It was just too much of an albatross around their neck from Washington to get them over the line,” Hogan said.
He described his political coattails as even smaller this year than in 2014, when he and Lt. Gov. Boyd Rutherford (R) won an upset victory and Republicans made gains across the state, despite being outnumbered 2-to-1 by Democrats in voter registration.
The governor had endorsed County Executives Steve Schuh (R-Anne Arundel) and Allan H. Kittleman (R-Howard County), both of whom were ousted by Democratic challengers.
In Baltimore County, Democrat Johnny Olszewski Jr. captured the county executive’s seat over Republican Al Redmer Jr., a Hogan cabinet appointee who also had the governor’s endorsement, even as Hogan won the county by a huge margin.
The Maryland GOP’s effort to use Hogan’s popularity to break Democrats’ supermajority in the state senate was also unsuccessful. Republicans flipped two seats currently held by Democrats but came up short of the five they needed.
In the House of Delegates, Democrats gained six seats.
Asked whether he could have done more to campaign for down-ballot Republicans, Hogan said “we got pretty involved in a lot of these races,” pointing to fundraising dollars and campaign appearances he made on behalf of some candidates.
“It was a repudiation of the president, who lost the state by 30 points,” Hogan said. “People came out and expressed their frustration against just about all Republicans in our state, with the exception of us.”
Hogan — who won every jurisdiction in Maryland except Baltimore City and Montgomery and Prince George’s counties — was greeted by several shouts of “Hogan for President!” at his victory party Tuesday.
He said he wants to be part of a national conversation about how to move the Republican Party forward but has not “given any thought” to other offices he might seek.
“We just got through a hard-fought election, we had a fun party last night, and now we’re getting back to work,” he said.
Hogan said he planned to focus in his second term on “more of the same,” including increasing accountability in public school systems, protecting the Chesapeake Bay and boosting the state’s transportation infrastructure.
Hogan also said he wants to provide more tax breaks, create more jobs and push to create a nonpartisan redistricting commission to redraw legislative boundaries after the 2020 census.
“There is going to be no change of direction,” he said, before repeating a favorite campaign mantra. “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.”
Hogan, who has said a “purple surfboard” allowed him to withstand the blue wave that swept Maryland on Tuesday night, joked that he thought about trying to go out and find such a surfboard to bring to the news conference — but ultimately decided against it.