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January 1, Ex-Governor Shakes Up Senate Race, Democrats Scramble



The Democrats’ stronghold on the Senate seat in Maryland may be under threat as former Republican Governor Larry Hogan, who was twice elected in the state, throws his hat into the ring. Hogan’s unexpected Senate campaign, coupled with a series of unfavorable poll numbers, has put Democrats on the defensive for a seat they likely wouldn’t have been concerned about, according to several Maryland-based political operatives. Jim Burton, former state GOP executive director and longtime Republican operative in Maryland, told the Daily Caller News Foundation, “If anyone can flip a blue state, it’s going to be Larry Hogan.”

Hogan, who was elected governor twice with comfortable margins, announced his surprise Senate campaign on Feb. 9 for the seat currently held by retiring Democratic Sen. Ben Cardin. His entry into the race, backed by a series of daunting poll numbers, has led several Maryland-based political operatives to believe that Hogan’s candidacy could jeopardize the Democrats’ chances of retaining what would otherwise have been a safe seat.

“Republicans view this as a gift, and the Democrats view it as a nightmare,” Paul Ellington, a Maryland-based Republican strategist and former state GOP executive director, told the DCNF.

Hogan’s popularity in the state remained intact as he left office in early 2023, with 77% of Marylanders approving of his job performance. Interestingly, Democrats awarded Hogan higher approval numbers than Republicans did, at 81% to 68% respectively, and 76% of unaffiliated voters approved of the governor.

Ellington added, “I think there’s a very real chance that he could win, because he has a record to run on. He has eight years as being the governor, he did not raise taxes, he governed from a common sense point of view and [focused on] kitchen table issues. He didn’t get involved in … the partisan pettiness. In fact, he rose above it and made great strides in establishing himself as moderate, fair-minded governor.”

An Emerson College poll released Feb. 15 found Hogan tied with Democratic Rep. David Trone and leading Democratic County Executive Angela Alsobrooks by seven points for potential general election matchups. The survey also found the former governor ahead of both Democrats by double digits among independent voters.

“There’s no question that this is an uphill battle, especially with a billionaire in the race who’s spent something like $25 million already, but Governor Hogan has already received an outpouring of support from Marylanders fed up with the status quo,” Michael Ricci, spokesman for the Hogan campaign, told the DCNF in a statement.

Republican state Sen. Justin Ready echoed Ricci’s sentiment and told the DCNF a bruising Democratic primary could dampen the nominee’s chances against Hogan. “It’s another place that Democrats have to play defense, and they have [sic] a very competitive, potentially divisive primary they’re engaged in between two contenders,” Ready said.

A poll conducted by longtime Hogan pollster Ragnar Research Partners and commissioned by the National Republican Senatorial Committee (NRSC), found Hogan beating Trone by 16 points, and Alsobrooks by 23 points. “Democrats are panicking because Marylanders know Governor Hogan as a popular former governor with an independent brand and record of results,” Tate Mitchell, spokesman for the NRSC, told the DCNF in a statement.

Len Foxwell, a Democratic strategist based in Maryland, acknowledged that Hogan’s candidacy will make the state more competitive. “It’s certainly going to force Democrats to realign their resources and invest in a state that they thought they wouldn’t have to spend five minutes paying attention to,” Foxwell told the DCNF.

Some state GOP operatives believe Democrats will attempt to link Hogan with former President Donald Trump and other Republicans in Washington, D.C., in an attempt to turn off Maryland voters. “What the Dems will try to do is tag him as a ‘Trumper.’ They’re talking like, ‘Mitch McConnell Republican’ and stuff like that. And you know, voters in Maryland have seen him for eight years,” Jim Burton told the DCNF.

While many Republican Senate candidates have rallied around Trump’s candidacy, Hogan is a vocal critic who has endorsed former U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley in the GOP primary.

Foxwell believes that while Hogan “remains exceedingly popular with voters across partisan lines in the state,” the Senate seat will remain in Democratic hands. However, he also acknowledges that the race will likely hinge on issues such as abortion, gun control, and U.S. Supreme Court appointments.

“If anyone can flip a blue state, it’s going to be Larry Hogan,” Burton reiterated to the DCNF.

The state Republican Party is hoping to shore up support in November for the Senate race. “If former Governor Hogan wins the Republican Senate Primary, because of his name recognition, his last favorability numbers, and his network, combined with the plans that the Maryland GOP has in place for the general election, the Senate seat could definitely be a Republican win,” Chairwoman Nicole Beus Harris told the DCNF in a statement.

Why It Matters (op-ed)

Larry Hogan’s entrance into the Maryland Senate race is a game-changer for Republicans and a nightmare for Democrats. Hogan’s bipartisan appeal, as evidenced by his high approval ratings, shows that he’s not just a typical Republican candidate but a force to be reckoned with.

The Democrats will try to link Hogan to Trump, but Hogan’s independent brand and moderate stance on key issues could be enough to flip this blue state. This is a significant blow to the Democrats’ stronghold and a much-needed boost for the GOP.

As our loyal readers, we encourage you to share your thoughts and opinions on this issue. Let your voice be heard and join the discussion below.




  1. 1PatriotForever

    February 27, 2024 at 8:35 pm

    Congrats and GETTER Done hogan

  2. Fred

    February 28, 2024 at 10:22 am

    Give em hell!! Larry!! You da man!!!

    • James W Stowe

      February 28, 2024 at 2:52 pm

      Hogan is no friend to #2A.

  3. Rick

    March 2, 2024 at 6:32 am

    With a 77% approval rating, mary’s landers, would be foolish To NOT ACCEPT HIM,….
    Ummm SORRY LARRY, They like the Rats two and four legged, Crime, and Political Corruption.

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