At best, Gov. Larry Hogan’s refusal to vote for Donald Trump has only lost him some campaign bumper stickers. At worst, it’s eroded faith among the party faithful in the Republican governor’s leadership and cost him votes in his reelection.
And the Trump-supporting Maryland delegates to the Republican National Convention have heard a lot about it.
Jim Crawford, a delegate from Bryantown, said he has answered dozens of calls from “extremely disappointed” Trump supporters since Hogan made it known Wednesday that he would not cast a ballot for the New York billionaire.
Some of the callers knocked on doors and made calls for Hogan during his 2014 gubernatorial campaign, Crawford said. The governor’s decision will force those people to choose between Trump and Hogan, or find a way to reconcile the two, he said.
One man told Crawford that he ripped all of the Hogan bumper stickers off of his car as soon as he heard the governor’s decision.
“I’d like to know what his thinking is,” Crawford said of the popular first-term governor. “Because most of us understand that not supporting Trump is supporting Hillary.”
Joeylynn Hough, a delegate to the national convention from Brunswick, said although it’s ultimately the governor’s personal choice, many think Hogan should respect the support that Maryland GOP voters have shown for the presumptive Republican nominee.
Trump won 54 percent of the vote in the state’s Republican primary in April.
“They feel betrayed by him,” Hough said. “They feel he should put his differences aside and needs to respect their decision.”
Others said the governor should endorse Trump as a show of leadership and party unity. Delegate Joe Sliwka said Hogan should look to former governor Robert L. Ehrlich Jr., who “showed true statesmanship” when he endorsed Trump after his preferred candidate, Ohio Gov. John Kasich, withdrew from the race.
“I wish he would just endorse the nominee as the Republican leader of Maryland,” said Sliwka, a former aide to Ehrlich who lives in Fallston. “I think everybody should just come together as Republicans.”
Regardless of Hogan’s effect on the presidential race, multiple delegates said it could cost him votes in a 2018 reelection bid.
“Some people have said they will not support him in his next election,” Hough said. “One thing about Trump supporters is that we are very loyal. We mean what we say.”
But at least one Trump delegate said he would still back Hogan. John Stricklett, of Bethesda, said he supports the governor and ultimately doesn’t “put a lot of stock” in how Hogan fills out his ballot, even though having Trump in the White House would be better for Hogan than a President Clinton.
“It’s more of a personal decision of Hogan’s, it doesn’t really affect us,” the delegate said. “He’s governor of Maryland, and that’s a tough job. I try not to read much into it.”