ANNAPOLIS — There’s only one governor at a time.
That has been the refrain from incoming Gov. Larry Hogan any time he was faced with a question about public policy or other issues he will likely have to face over the next four years.
But sometime around 11:30 a.m. Wednesday — about an hour before a more public ceremony outside the west portico of the State House — Hogan will take the oath of office in the Senate chamber, becoming the state’s 62nd governor and the third Republican in more than 40 years to hold what is arguably the most powerful state executive’s position in the nation.
Here’s what you can expect from Hogan’s inauguration:
The devil is in the details
Don’t expect a lot in the way of detailed policy. Inauguration speeches are typically more focused on repeating the themes of the campaign.
For Hogan, that means touching on topics such as his focus on increased fiscal responsibility, improving the state’s business climate, finding a way to roll back some of the tax increases he campaigned against.
Sen. Edward J Kasemeyer, D-Howard and Baltimore Counties, said he expects the speech “will set a tone for the details that will follow.” Some of those details will follow 24 hours after taking office when Hogan makes public his first budget.
Sen. Jim Brochin, D-Baltimore County, said he hopes Hogan will be more forthcoming about how he plans to cut taxes and re-energize the middle class in the state.
“He’s got to let some of the air out of the balloon,” Brochin said, referencing what he said was an increasing tax burden placed on residents over the last eight years.
Goodbye to flowery prose
Outgoing Gov. Martin J. O’Malley was known for punctuating his speeches with prose stylings that could sometimes be a little over the top. Republicans say they expect Hogan will differ from his Democratic predecessor in this respect and that his agenda will be focused inward at the state.
“A lot of what Governor O’Malley did was focused on pushing the national Democratic agenda and his focus on higher office,” said Del. Nicholaus R. Kipke, R-Anne Arundel and House Minority Leader. “I think Governor Hogan is going to be a Marylander pushing Maryland themes.”
Getting to know all about you
While Republicans in Annapolis are clearly excited to once again have a member of their party in the governor’s mansion, Democrats are somewhat uncertain.
Hogan has never held public office and exactly how he’ll govern remains a bit of a mystery. Many Democrats say they don’t know Hogan and have never met him.
“This is a new beginning,” said Del. Curt Anderson, D-Baltimore City. “I think Democrats know he wants to make some serious changes. I want to hear him say, ‘This is what I want to cut. This is what I want to keep.’ There’s some trepidation and anxiety and waiting for the other shoe to drop.”
Still, many Democrats say they believe Hogan will be willing to work with them and point to his Cabinet as an positive sign.
“The most important thing any governor can do is surround himself with good people,” said Sen. Catherine E. Pugh, D-Baltimore City. “I think he’s made some wise choices.”
Keeping it local
Over the last five years, local governments have been asked to shoulder costs that were largely the responsibility of state government.
Counties have picked up paying for teacher’s pensions, half of the costs of running the state Department of Assessments and Taxation and seen their share of state money for roads projects slashed by 90 percent—about $1.1 billion, according to the Maryland Association of Counties.
Hogan has promised to restore those road funds to the counties and to more than 160 incorporated towns and cities. He’ll also have to make a decision about whether to move forward with the multibillion-dollar Purple and Red line rail projects.