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Could Larry Hogan Win the Maryland Senate Race?

State of the Union: In a shocker, popular (though anti-Trump) former Governor Larry Hogan said he’s in.

Maryland Gov Hogan practices farewell address
(Photo by Michael Robinson Chávez/The Washington Post via Getty Images)

Former Maryland Governor Larry Hogan has announced he’s running for Senate in the Old Line State.

In a video posted Friday on Twitter declaring his intent to fill the seat opening due to Senator Ben Cardin’s retirement, Hogan said he’s running because he’s “completely fed up with politics as usual," and believes the nation “can do so much better.” He wants to go to Washington “not to serve one party, but to try to be part of the solution to fix our nation's broken politics” by “finding common ground for the common good.”

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It’s a nice sentiment from the man who briefly mulled a bid for the 2024 GOP presidential nomination. But if Hogan sees a seat in the Senate as the next step towards the presidency, he still has much to learn. 

Hogan started the video reflecting on his father, Larry Hogan Sr., being the first Republican congressman to come out in support of President Richard Nixon’s impeachment. “He put aside party politics and his own personal considerations. He stepped up to do the right thing for Maryland and the nation,” Hogan claimed. “Today. Washington is completely broken. Because that kind of leadership, that kind of willingness to put country over party has become far too rare.”

Larry Hogan Sr. didn’t know what time it was then. He failed to understand the malevolent forces at work against President Nixon’s effort to bring the deep state to heel. Larry Hogan Jr. doesn’t know what time it is now. He fails to grasp the fact those forces are still at work seeking to destroy the Republic.

While Hogan Jr.'s naivety shouldn’t be ignored, he doesn’t want to destroy the Republic. If he wins the primary, his Democratic opponent, likely either Rep. David Trone or Angela Alsobrooks, probably will. And Hogan might just be the GOP’s best shot at winning in Maryland.

When Hogan was reelected in 2018, Hogan managed to win by nearly a dozen points. When he left office in 2023, he was one of the most popular governors in the country. “Larry Hogan is more popular than Old Bay in Maryland, across every single demographic,” Spectator reporter Matthew Foldi, a native Marylander, told The American Conservative. “His Democratic opponent will be either David Trone, who is rich but incredibly lazy or Angela Alsobrooks, who no one can pick out of a phone book. Hogan, by contrast, has universal name ID in every part of the state.”

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Hogan’s successful governorship and name ID, Foldi believes, will contribute to Hogan’s ability to build a campaign that stands a chance. “Hogan has a sprawling network of support across the state and nationally,” Foldi said. “No human being in the state of Maryland has anything on this level.”

“In Maryland, Republicans are tired of losing,” Foldi told TAC. “Hogan absolutely annihilated his Democratic opponent in 2018, where Republicans lost everywhere.” 

Nevertheless, Hogan faces a steep up-hill climb if he wants to be Maryland’s next senator. Democrats far outnumber Republicans, almost by a two to one margin. Last time Cardin was on the ballot, in 2018, he defeated his Republican challenger by almost 35 points. 

Yet, with just a one-seat majority in the Senate, Democrats face a tough Senate map in 2024. West Virginia, Ohio, Arizona, and Montana, just to name a few, will be hyper-competitive races that could flip blue seats red. But if any party can snatch defeat from the jaws of victory, it’s the GOP. The 2022 election cycle, when Republicans had another favorable Senate map, proved that much.

Both parties will have to be careful about how they spend their resources. Hogan will likely receive strong backing from McConnell-world. But the Senate Minority Leader is weaker than ever, and the party is increasingly falling back in line behind Trump. With a lot of mouths to feed in competitive senate races, Hogan will likely have to pursue detente with Trump to get his slice of the pie. How big that slice will be remains to be seen. The worst case scenario: The GOP blows millions on a double-digit loss à la Democrats blowing over $100 million on Jaime Harrison’s effort to unseat Lindsey Graham in 2020.

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