Cox, who wondered if there was an uprising on January 6, 2021, and has Calling public schools “indoctrination centers” represents everything Hogan has railed against in his dozens of TV appearances positioning himself as a Republican alternative to Trump.
Maryland Republicans and national strategists described it as a heavy loss, proof that Hogan’s influence in the party may be on the wane. At least, unless you talk to Larry Hogan himself, who sees no loss at all.
“There was no rejection,” Hogan said in an interview. “I mean, I think I’m stronger than ever,” he said, pointing to recent polls that showed he’s very popular in the state.
Republican strategist Bill Kristol, who once encouraged the second-term governor to challenge Trump in the 2020 primaries, agreed that “Hogan is popular in Maryland.”
But he added: “Hoganism is, I’m afraid, not very popular within the Republican Party in Maryland right now. And frankly, it’s not popular nationwide at the moment.”
If Hogan couldn’t convince primary voters who know and like him to embrace his vision of calling on moderates and independents to grow the Republican party, strategists asked, how could he sell that to primary? GOP voters who have never met him?
Maryland House Minority Whip Haven N. Shoemaker Jr. (R-Carroll) said Hogan’s rule over the Republicans in Maryland looked set to end Tuesday.
“What we saw from the results yesterday is that there is significant Hogan fatigue among Republican primary voters in Maryland,” Shoemaker said. “A lot of it is vitriol that stems from the lockdowns we saw during the global pandemic, and a lot of it stems from the swear words the governor aimed at President Trump. You can’t win a Republican primary from the left. And I think yesterday’s results proved that fact.”
Primary voters overlooked Hogan’s political mentee — former Secretary of Commerce Kelly Schulz — and instead exalted someone the governor openly called “crazy”: Cox. The state legislator attended the Jan. 6 meeting that preceded the attack on the U.S. Capitol and once called former Vice President Mike Pence “a traitor” (though he later expressed regret for his language).
Cox tried to impeach Hogan over coronavirus restrictions and campaigned to control the 2020 presidential election, restrict abortion rights, exclude transgender athletes from female sports, and improve parental controls on sex education and teaching race in public schools .
Hogan argued for Schulz, a longtime friend who ripped out Hogan’s electoral playbook of emphasis on crime reduction and wallet issues, saying that Cox would definitely lose the governor’s mansion to Democrats in November in a deep-blue state only a moderate Republican could win. .
Maryland Republicans elected Cox anyway and gave Hogan a loss in what was widely seen as a proxy war between his views of the party and Trump’s. When Trump called Cox supporters together earlier this month, his pitch was that Hogan was “a crappy governor” and that “anyone he wants, frankly, I would be against on that basis alone.”
Kristol, like other admirers of Hogan, said that “I don’t think last night was a disaster.” But he added: “I don’t think enough of the party is where he is now. I don’t know if that will change in the future.”
Hogan said he hopes the party will adapt. He dismissed Cox’s win as a partisan swindle by the Democrats, who he believes were putting their thumbs up to elevate a fringe candidate who has no chance of winning in November.
“The far left spent millions of dollars promoting, you know, conspiracy theory-believing insurgents. That’s what happened,” he said, adding that his own name was not on the ballot.
“It really didn’t have much to do with me,” Hogan said. “It’s a huge loss for Maryland and the Republican Party and a big win for, you know, the national Democrats and the Democratic Governors Association.”
The DGA spent $2 million on state television and mailings to promote Cox’s ties to Trump — more than both GOP candidates have spent. the DGA openly admitted that it sees Maryland as the best chance of knocking over a governor’s mansion this year.
But Hogan’s argument doesn’t hold up to everyone.
“I don’t really believe that,” Kristol said. “Most importantly, Trump endorsed Cox; let’s be real. … The ad is pretty honest, and the ad says that this man, Cox, is a Trump supporter. If that’s what appeals to the Republican primary voters in Maryland, that’s what appeals to them.”
The other candidate Hogan enthusiastically endorsed, his daughter Jaymi Sterling, won her primary race for state attorney in St. Mary’s County, voting for Trump in 2020 by wide margins. state-wide primaries, including for congressional seats.
Despite winning two terms in a state where Democrats outnumber Republicans by 2 to 1, Hogan has shown no fur. When he won re-election by 12 percentage points in 2018, the GOP lost three key county executive races and at least eight competitive General Assembly seats.
The Cook Political Report, which assesses political race, reclassified the governor’s race from “leans Democrat” to “solid Democrat” after Cox’s victory, skipping the mid-term assessment of “probably Democrat.” And that is without a definitive Democratic candidate. The race on that side is still too close to mention between political newcomer Wes Moore, former US Secretary of Labor Tom Perez and Maryland controller Peter Franchot.
“It has been proven time and time again. The way Republicans can win in blue states is with moderate Republicans, not Trump-like Republicans in a state that lost the former president by 33 points,” said Cook editor Jessica Taylor.
After Cox won, the DGA placed an ad featuring footage of Hogan’s sharp criticism of Cox for attacking the new GOP nominee.
“I think they must think I’m still pretty influential,” Hogan said dryly.
Hogan said he will not support Cox in November, although he said emphatically “no,” instead he would not campaign for the Democratic candidate.
“I would hope he would do his adult duty and support his party’s candidate, but unfortunately we have seen nothing from him other than false statements and comments that he feels alone in a lifeboat,” Cox said in a statement.
Doug Mayer, who was a deputy campaign manager for Hogan and a senior adviser to the Schulz campaign, denied the implications of Cox’s victory.
“It has nothing to do with Larry Hogan’s political future. At the end of the day, the governor will be 100 percent right if Dan Cox loses in historic fashion. It’s that simple,” Mayer says. “There’s quite a few Republicans from Maryland who don’t understand that a tidal wave of liberal madness is coming at them. And instead of slamming the shutters, they opened the front door.”
Hogan said he will not be stopped from trying to persuade Republicans to emulate Reagan’s party. He still has stops in Iowa on his agenda for next month, although he has said he won’t make a decision on the presidency until after he leaves in January.
“I’ve long said that there is a battle for the heart and soul of the Republican Party,” Hogan said. “That battle will continue for a few more years. … And I, for example, am not going to stop.”