Larry Hogan Becomes First Republican Governor in 64 Years To Win Re-Election in Md.

The scene before Maryland Governor Larry Hogan declared victory. Photo by Tai Spears, Howard University News Service.

ANNAPOLIS, Md.- In winning the Maryland gubernatorial election Tuesday, Larry Hogan became the first Republican governor to be re-elected in Maryland since Gov. Theodore McKeldin won re-election in 1954. Hogan claimed victory over former NAACP president Ben Jealous by promising tax cuts, business development and compromise with the Democrat-controlled legislature.

“Four years ago you all helped me pull off the biggest upset in America , becoming only the second elected Republican governor in the State of Maryland in 50 years and tonight in a deep blue state, a blue wave, I was able to surf,” Hogan said to a packed ballroom at the Westin in Annapolis.

Incomplete results at 10:30 p.m. last night showed Hogan had 954,775 votes compared to 690,136 for Jealous.

Despite strong support from Democratic politicians including Joe Biden, Kamala Harris and Cory Booker, Jealous’ efforts fell short in his first race for office.

“Let me take a moment to thank Mr. Jealous for running a spirited campaign and giving Marylanders a real choice to vote. While we disagree on the issues he has my utmost respect and I seriously wish him well on his future pursuits,” Hogan said as he declared victory.

Hogan’s message throughout the campaign did not change and in this election he was certainly not the underdog he was in 2014, when he pulled off what the Washington Post called a “stunning upset,” against Democratic nominee Anthony Brown. With the Republican Governors Association endorsing Hogan and investing $4 million into his campaign he was favored to win re-election by a significant margin against his Democratic challenger since he was nominated in June.  

Hogan, the second-most-popular governor in America, dwarfed Jealous  in fundraising and was generally popular in the predominantly Democratic state. With more than $3 million on hand as of Oct. 21, Hogan’s re-election campaign was a well-oiled machine. It pumped out campaign ads highlighting his first-term accomplishments, such as surpassing funding quotas for the state’s education system, cracking down on violent crime and cutting taxes.

During his first year in office, Hogan developed a reputation for steady leadership, especially during the rioting following the death of Freddie Gray at the hands of Baltimore police. This alone raised  Democratic support of Hogan’s term from 40 percent to an impressive 60 percent by the end of his first year. One of Hogan’s most-touted accomplishments is reining in taxes, tolls and fees that had increased before he took office. Hogan successfully reduced some tolls by $2 per ride, while cutting fees for services like birth and death certificates. Though he has called for an end to an estimated 40 tax increases, his most noteworthy repeal was of the “rain tax.”

However, it is Hogan’s clear stance and commitment to bipartisanship in  Maryland that accounts for his success as governor over the past 4 years. Since his inaugural address in 2014 he has aimed to create a middle ground between Democrats and Republicans. Hogan has referred to himself as “the most bipartisan governor,” and publicly criticizes the president.

“Ladies and gentleman tonight hundreds and thousands of Democrats reaffirmed the wisdom of JFK who said ‘sometimes party loyalty demands too much. I will continue to be a governor for all Marylanders, tonight the voters of Maryland put aside divisive partisan politics and the people in our great state voted for civility, for bipartisanship, and for common sense leadership,”

While Hogan has a high approval rate, his first term was not exempt from criticism. Hogan was criticized for scrapping the Red Line, a planned transportation project in Baltimore, which would have received substantial federal dollars. He has since proposed a billion-dollar plan to widen roads in the state’s population centers.