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C. Fraser Smith: He’s governor. And he’s reasonable.

At the end of their first 90 days in Annapolis with GOP Gov. Larry Hogan, some Democrats have one basic question:

Where are the whackos when you need them?

Or to put it another way — as one party leader reportedly did: “The bad news is that this guy could be very reasonable.”

One further down-in-the-weeds take from someone who knows him well: Hogan’s got an orientation — not an agenda.

He doesn’t have a policy bone in his body. He wants to be a two-term governor, so he’s more likely to seek solutions that confrontations.

An example: Immediately upon taking office, Hogan pulled back regulations on the use of chicken waste as fertilizer on farm fields. This was most certainly an antiregulation statement to his party base.

But he knows that runoff from the phosphorus-loaded Eastern Shore fields is a major source of Chesapeake Bay pollution.

Hogan seemed willing to ignore that reality — until he issued his own version of the regs. He gave farmers another year to address the problem but left much of the O’Malley plan intact.

A Hogan official had tried to reassure legislators in advance of the order: We can handle this. And they did, more or less, with the longer time frame.

And there were other examples of reasonable:

A charter schools bill favored by the governor was handled with similar ease. Flawed as introduced, the proposal was re-crafted and passed with virtually no opposition.

Anti-fracking or fracking moratorium bills were handled with little drama.

As the assembly heads toward adjournment next week, legislators and the governor face one major issue: the budget. After first applauding the assembly’s work on his spending plan, Hogan now seems determined be backing away. He says he’s willing to keep lawmakers in session beyond Monday’s scheduled adjournment.

He wants restoration of $70 million cut from education spending. That could be used for a series of small tax breaks he’s proposed.

The assembly, having thought that issue settled, now insists the money is “fenced in” — that it can only be used for education-related issues. There could well be a test of that contention.

But, given the other examples of “reasonable,” there might be a solution that does not involve high-level games of chicken as the adjournment deadline nears.

All of this stands in deep contrast to the state of play in the administration of GOP governor, Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. Ehrlich was not a whacko but he was a true believer. He enjoyed confrontation. And he thought Maryland was shifting perceptibly to the political right.

Hogan may bow occasionally to that wing of his party, but he seems to have his party behind him as his style of governing evolves.

Some might not have guessed he would be offering so little red meat to the conservatives. What may be seen as the most serious misstep of the year was his State of the State speech in January.

Maryland, he said, could be so much better. Democratic policy makers were driving people to move away.

Seeming to forget that some senators and delegates were here during the O’Malley administration — and voted repeatedly for his programs — Hogan invited a storm of criticism, notably from state Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller Jr.

“We’re not going backward,” Miller had said during these opening days. Nor can Democratic legislators see much, if any, backsliding so far.

Thus, when it comes to finding a Republican to do battle with, Democrats have almost nowhere to turn. Hogan has appointed smart cabinet secretaries willing to work with the assembly on just about anything.

“It’s tough for us to take yes for an answer,” one of them said this week.

C. Fraser Smith is senior news analyst for WYPR. His column appears Fridays in the Daily Record. His email address is fsmith@wypr.org.