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Gov.-elect Larry Hogan leaves The Westin Annapolis after a news conference. Hogan announced his transition team and pledged to work with the legislature’s Democratic leadership. (The Daily Record/Maximilian Franz)

For Hogan, the hard work begins

ANNAPOLIS — Gov.-elect Larry Hogan ran a three-year campaign he said was focused like a laser on the issues of improving the business climate and tax structure in Maryland.

Less than a day after defeating Democratic Lt. Gov. Anthony Brown, Hogan called for bipartisan cooperation and named his transition team, which includes the former secretary of Business and Economic Development under Democratic former Gov. Parris N. Glendening.

“Today, the real work begins,” Hogan told reporters gathered at the Westin Hotel. “We’ve got a lot of work to do. Our state economy is in real trouble. We’ve focused on that for years and we’ve got to roll up our sleeves and get to work on trying to turn our state around. We’re going to do that in a bipartisan fashion.”

Hogan’s first appointment in his nascent administration attempts to address both of the governor-elect’s immediate priorities.

James T. Brady, 74, will co-chair Hogan’s transition team, along with Lt. Gov.-elect Boyd Rutherford. Brady, who was born in New York, was a managing partner with the Baltimore office of Arthur Anderson & Co. before co-chairing the transition team for Glendening in 1994. He later co-chaired transition efforts for Republican Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. in 2002.

Brady said his first concern is finding the best people for Hogan’s administration regardless of party affiliation. He said he also did not want to recommend appointments based on political favoritism.

“Too many administrations in the past, in my opinion, have made appointments that are more political than management,” Brady said. “There are departments within the state of Maryland that are very difficult to manage. These are big-time jobs. A lot of people and a lot of issues and we need people who can manage that kind of environment. We don’t need friends of the governor. Too often, I think, I’m not just talking about Maryland but around the country, a lot of times people are put in positions because they are friends of the governor. I want people who have demonstrated in careers that they can do this stuff, they can manage stuff.”

Hogan, in naming his two-person team, was circumspect about specifics on policies that could affect the construction of the Purple and Red Line rail projects, taxes he would specifically target to be rolled back and other issues.

“We’ll discuss that during the transition,” Hogan said.

Hogan Tuesday did what many thought was not possible.

For the second time since 2002 and only the third time since 1966, a Republican won the governor’s mansion in a state many thought was so Democratic that voters would barely consider Republican candidates.

But Hogan now must find a way to govern in concert with an overwhelmingly Democratic legislature while attempting to make good on promises to roll back some of the 40 taxes he railed against during the campaign and to make the state more business friendly. It’s a daunting challenge that could prove more difficult than the campaign he just finished.

Hogan, in a speech to supporters in Annapolis early Wednesday morning, called his victory “the largest mandate for change in Maryland in 63 years.”

“Tonight we have sent a loud and clear message to Annapolis that they heard all across the country,” Hogan said.

Hogan said the problems he hopes to address require bipartisan solutions.

Hogan won the night with 51.5 percent of the total vote — a 4.75 percentage point advantage over Brown. The percentage was nearly identical to that earned by Robert L. Ehrlich Jr., who took 51.55 percent in his 2002 win over Kathleen Kennedy Townsend.

Hogan trailed Brown Tuesday night as early voting results were posted but with each passing update of Election Day results the Republican saw his lot improve. He finally overtook Brown and extended a lead at one point to 9 percentage points.

Hogan became the first candidate to win the governor’s race in state history while taking public financing. He defeated an opponent who was seeking to become not only the first lieutenant governor to be elected governor but also Maryland’s first black governor.

He will find the act of governing challenging with a House of Delegates that some recently retiring members say is less friendly to moderate voices. And there’s the Democratic-controlled Senate, presided over by Sen. Thomas V. Mike Miller, the longest-serving Senate president in the country.

In 2006, Miller vowed that Democrats would “get together and we’re going to shoot [Republicans] down. We’re going to put them in the ground. We’re going to bury them upside-down, and it’ll be 10 years before they crawl out again.”

Robert L. Ehrlich Jr., Maryland’s last Republican governor, said Miller could prove to be an ally to Hogan, more so than House Speaker Michael Busch.

“He understands political dynamics,” Ehrlich said of Miller. “He understands power politics.”

Additionally, Ehrlich said, Hogan and Miller have a long-standing relationship.

Still, Ehrlich doesn’t underestimate the challenge facing Hogan, but he said his former appointments secretary will soon wield the budgetary authority of the most powerful governor’s office in the country.

“It’s going to be difficult,” Ehrlich said. “Larry can do a lot of things independently through the budget process.”

Meanwhile, Democrats are looking for answers in a year when there was a national Republican wave and anti-incumbent sentiment coupled with Maryland voter concerns over pocketbooks issues. All this in a state that has not seen an economic recovery keep pace with the rest of the country.

Republicans picked up two seats in the Senate by defeating longtime Sen. Roy Dyson and winning the seat left open by Sen. Norman Stone, who represented Dundalk for 50 years.

Additionally, Republicans won all three seats in the House of Delegates in the Sixth Legislative District in Dundalk and the seat on the Baltimore County Council — all held by Democrats. Additionally, Del. Norman H. Conway, chairman of the House Appropriations Committee, and Del. John L. Bohanan Jr., chair of the Spending Affordability Committee, lost their seats to Republican challengers.