The Maryland Democratic Party attacked Gov. Larry Hogan’s economic record on Tuesday, trying to undermine the Republican’s case for reelection by showing that recent job and wage growth in the state have lagged compared with nearby states and the nation.
“While Larry Hogan continues to tout so-called ‘economic success,’ Marylanders have been stuck with less money in their pockets and stagnating job growth under his watch,” party chair Kathleen Matthews said in statement accompanying a report criticizing the governor.
Citing data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the party noted that Maryland’s employment level has increased 3.56 percent, to 2.74 million jobs, since December 2014, the month before Hogan took office; employment for Virginia and the nation increased 4.08 percent and 4.14 percent, respectively, over the same period.
The report also said average hourly earnings for Maryland workers fell to $27.47 in May, a 3.98 percent drop compared with the inflation-adjusted figure for December 2014. Over that span, Delaware’s average hourly earnings jumped nearly 14 percent, to $25.50; Virginia’s climbed almost 4 percent, to $27.60; and Pennsylvania’s rose about 0.69 percent.
Hogan spokesman Doug Mayer said the Democratic Party used flawed methodology and that the state’s economy has improved drastically compared with the tenure of former governor Martin O’Malley (D), whose first term coincided with the Great Recession, followed by a slow recovery during his second term.
Mayer said the party should have used January 2015 — instead of December 2014 — as a baseline for employment growth, because Hogan took office in late January. He said the state has added nearly 100,000 new jobs and decreased its unemployment rate since then to 4.2 percent, the lowest rate in a decade.
“Maryland’s economic strength and the governor’s leadership on the issue speak for themselves,” Mayer said. “Everything else is just partisan noise.”
BLS data shows that the state gained 36,800 jobs during O’Malley’s two terms in office, compared with 93,300 during Hogan’s nearly 30-month tenure, using January of their first year in office as the baseline for both governors.
In recent speeches, Hogan has taken credit for overseeing an “exciting economic resurgence” in Maryland and for making the state “open for business” again after years of what he describes as unduly burdensome regulations and tax hikes under O’Malley.
By criticizing the Republican governor’s economic record, the state Democratic Party is testing a new approach to dampening his high approval ratings and weakening what is becoming a central theme in his case for reelection.
Prior attacks this year have focused largely on trying to tie Hogan to President Trump, who is deeply unpopular in Maryland, and condemning the governor for not coming out more forcefully against White House policies.
Hogan’s approval rating was 65 percent in a Washington Post-University of Maryland poll in March, down from 71 percent in October.
The March survey showed that his support weakens somewhat when voters consider the 2018 election. Forty-one percent of voters in the state, where registered Democrats outnumber Republicans more than 2 to 1, said they are likely to vote for Hogan over the eventual Democratic nominee, compared with 46 percent last fall.
But the governor remains hugely popular among Republicans in his state and has amassed a considerable campaign war chest, indications that it will be an uphill battle for any of the Democrats vying to challenge him a year from November.