As Gov. Larry Hogan approached the podium in the ornate, small Catholic church just blocks away from the Maryland Statehouse on Saturday, he realized he was about to do the “toughest thing” he had ever done: publicly say goodbye to his father.
“Larry Hogan Sr. was my hero and the man that I am most proud of,” the Republican governor said during the funeral mass at St. Mary’s Catholic Church.
His voice filled with emotion, Hogan spoke of a father and son tightly connected through politics: “He stood up and fought, even when the odds were stacked against him. . . . He spent his entire life fighting valiantly for the things he believed in, and that, I believe will forever be his legacy.”
Hogan remembered his father as a scrappy politician who “ran the races and fought the fights that nobody believed could be won, and win or lose, he always gave them everything he had.”
Lawrence J. Hogan Sr. died April 20. He Was 88.
Hogan remembered his father as a former FBI agent who went to law school, ran a small public relations firm, taught journalism classes at the University of Maryland and led Prince George’s County as its top elected official.
But he spoke at length about his father’s time as a GOP congressman who put his political future at risk by turning against then-President Richard M. Nixon during the Watergate scandal. He was the only Republican on the House Judiciary Committee to support all three articles of impeachment.
“It was his defining moment,” said Hogan during a nearly 15-minute eulogy. “It is that very moment in history which he is most remembered and most admired for.”
Larry Hogan Sr. entered politics as a volunteer for Democratic presidential candidate John F. Kennedy, but then switched parties during the 1960 campaign and backed Nixon.
In 1966, he made his first run for political office, losing a bid for Congress. Two years later, he was elected to Congress, representing Maryland’s 5th Congressional District that includes Prince George’s County and parts of Southern Maryland. He twice won reelection.
In 1974, Hogan gave up his congressional seat to run for governor, but he lost the GOP nomination. He was criticized by many in both parties who said he used the impeachment to gain statewide publicity for the governor’s race, a charge he denied.
On Saturday, Archbishop William E. Lori of Baltimore described Hogan Sr. as a “vigorous campaigner.”
Four years after his unsuccessful run for governor, Hogan Sr. again ran for elected office, this time to lead Prince George’s County. He was elected county executive in 1978. And in 1982, he opted against a second term and instead ran unsuccessfully for U.S. Senate.
That decision helped clear the way for Parris Glendening to become county executive and later governor.
“I think Parris Glendening may have been the only one who was thrilled with that decision,” Hogan said, drawing laughter from the audience.
Another light moment came when Hogan said his father would have been honored to know that four governors attended his service, “including every single living Republican governor in Maryland.”
There is only one other besides Hogan himself — Gov. Robert L. Erhlich Jr. (R), who was in the audience of about 500 people.
The crowd also included Glendening (D), Lt. Gov. Boyd Rutherford (R), Comptroller Peter Franchot (D) and House Minority Whip Steny H. Hoyer (D-Md.), who holds Hogan Sr.’s old congressional seat.
Many members of the Maryland General Assembly were also on hand, including Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller Jr. (D-Calvert), House Speaker Michael E. Busch (D-Anne Arundel). They were joined by Prince George’s County Executive Rushern L. Baker III, who is expected to challenge the governor for his seat in 2018.
Also in attendance was New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (R), who backed Hogan in the 2014 gubernatorial campaign and became a close friend. Hogan shared a story of his father asking Christie days before the election if he really thought his son could win the race. Christie told Hogan Sr. that his son was going to be the next governor of Maryland. Hogan Sr. cried.
When Hogan won the election, he turned to his father and said “Dad, it may have taken 40 years, but we are finally going to have a Larry Hogan as governor of Maryland.” His father cried again, Hogan said.
“Our hearts are broken today,” the governor said. “With him goes a part of all of us, but his legacy will long be remembered and his spirit will live on in our hearts.”