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Larry Hogan announces Senate bid, instantly shaking up Maryland race

Democratic challenger David Trone slams ‘empty promises’ from former governor’s tenure

Then-Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan practices his farewell address at the Maryland State House in Annapolis on Jan. 10, 2023. He announced a bid for the U.S. Senate on Friday.
Then-Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan practices his farewell address at the Maryland State House in Annapolis on Jan. 10, 2023. He announced a bid for the U.S. Senate on Friday. (Michael Robinson Chávez/The Washington Post via Getty Images)

Former Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan jumped into the state’s open Senate race Friday, saying he wants to bring his brand of pragmatic Republican politics to a “completely broken” Washington.

“I don’t come from the performative art school of politics,” Hogan said in a video message posted on social media. “I come from the get-to-work and get-things-done school, and I’ll work with anyone who wants to do the people’s business.”

Hogan has emerged as one of former President Donald Trump’s most outspoken critics, and his campaign announcement emphasized his willingness to take on politicians from both sides of the aisle. He cited his father, Larry Hogan Sr., a Republican member of Congress who voted to impeach President Richard Nixon.

“He put aside party politics and his own personal considerations and he stepped up to do the right thing for Maryland and the nation,” Hogan said. “Today … that kind of leadership, that kind of willingness to put country over party, has become far too rare.”

Hogan has been able to transcend Maryland’s blue-state ethos, twice winning the governor’s office and routinely earning job approval ratings in the 70s. 

Winning the Senate seat now occupied by the retiring Democratic Sen. Benjamin L. Cardin likely will prove a tougher lift. There already are several Democrats running, including Rep. David Trone, who largely has self-funded his run, and Prince George’s County Executive Angela Alsobrooks.

Trone on Friday pushed back against Hogan’s embrace of bipartisanship.

“Marylanders are tired of empty promises from career politicians like Larry Hogan. During his time as governor, Larry Hogan neglected and failed the city of Baltimore, pushed for policies that kicked 200,000 Marylanders off the voter rolls, and cut backroom deals to benefit developers like himself at the expense of Maryland taxpayers. He talks about putting politics aside but spent his entire tenure as governor waging partisan attacks through bad policy,” he said in a statement.

Alsobrooks also made her case after Hogan’s announcement.

“From the day I got into public service that’s what I’ve done. And it’s why I’m going to win this primary in May and why I’ll defeat Larry Hogan in November. We know what’s at stake in this election — our fundamental freedoms over our bodies,” Alsobrooks said in a statement. “When I join the Democratic Majority, I’ll be a leader in fighting to defend those freedoms because I’m the only person in this race — on either side — who’s never compromised on that issue.”

Hogan’s announcement prompted Nathan L. Gonzales of Inside Elections to shift the race from Solid Democratic to Likely Democratic.

Maryland Democratic Rep. Steny H. Hoyer, the former House majority leader and a strong supporter of Alsobrooks, said Friday that he did not see Hogan’s entry changing the general election dynamic.

“I think there will be very, very strong support for a Democrat to be elected to the United States Senate. And the reason I think that is you have seen in the Senate Republicans — even if they’re not one of the willfully obstructionist members, as Hogan would not be — but if they create a majority that is run by the kind of … senators that we have now, the country will be served badly,” Hoyer said in an interview.

Hoyer pointed to this week’s episode in which Senate Republicans derailed an agreement on border security that Sen. James Lankford, R-Okla., a staunch conservative, had reached with Democrats — with the backing of Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky. — less than 24 hours after it was unveiled.

“So I think the issue will be do we want to have a Republican United States Senate to be equally obstructionist as the House, which from my perspective they are now but perhaps not as visibly because they haven’t dislodged their leader and then had multiple votes to try to replace them,” Hoyer said.

Like Hoyer, other Democrats were skeptical of Hogan’s promise to be a bipartisan bridge-builder who would stand up to the hard-right members of his party.

“A vote for Republican Larry Hogan is a vote to make Mitch McConnell Majority Leader and turn the Senate over to Republicans so they can pass a national abortion ban,” Maeve Coyle, spokeswoman for the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee said in a statement. “Democrats have won every statewide federal election in Maryland for 44 years and 2024 will be no different.”

Hogan, who had earlier ruled out a bid for Senate, had been mentioned as a possible candidate for president under the No Labels banner.

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