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Basking in victory, Hogan says Trump hurt rest of Md. GOP

Gov. Larry Hogan during a lighter moment at his post-election victory news conference Wednesday. (Bryan P. Sears)

Gov. Larry Hogan, with Lt. Gov. Boyd Rutherford, during a lighter moment at their post-election victory news conference Wednesday. (Bryan P. Sears)

ANNAPOLIS — Gov. Larry Hogan Wednesday lamented the election night defeats of members of his own party in Maryland and laid the blame on the president of the United States.

“I think it was a tough night,” said Hogan at a Wednesday post-election session with reporters. “We had President Trump say the election should be about him even though he’s not on the ballot. That’s exactly what happened. It was a repudiation of the president, who lost this state by 30 points, and people came out and expressed their frustration against just about all Republicans in our state with exception of us. It’s a tough night.”

Hogan entered the campaign as one of the most popular governors in the country along with Massachusetts’ Republican Gov. Charlie Baker.

The Maryland Republican hoped to parlay his personal popularity and job approval into a number of down-ballot electoral wins.

“I lost a lot of Republican governor colleagues across the country,” said Hogan. “I lost a lot of county executives here in the state. Republicans lost the House (of Representatives) but we won, the biggest victory ever.”

In the end, he defeated Democratic nominee Ben Jealous and racked up more than 1.1 million votes — the most of any statewide Republican candidate in Maryland — and became the first two-term governor from his party since Theodore McKeldin.

Hogan won every jurisdiction except Prince George’s and Montgomery counties and Baltimore City.

In Montgomery County, Hogan pulled in 44 percent of the vote, while he received 31 percent in the city and 28 percent in Prince George’s County.

In Maryland and across the country, Democratic voters were energized by the 2016 election and by their hostility to Trump. Hogan said it might be time for his members of his party to consider the message of the 2018 elections.

There’s no question that the Republican Party has to take a look at itself not just in Maryland but nationally and I think I’ll be a part of that discussion about how we move forward and maybe a model for how they might go about trying to win some races rather than lose races,” said Hogan. “Finding a way to work with people, regardless of their party affiliation, finding a way to reach compromise, to sit down and talk with people you might not always agree with, to find commonsense solutions — that’s what people want.”

Todd Eberly, a political scientist at St. Mary’s College of Maryland, said the race showed the difference in the way angry voters, energized over their anger with the president, saw Hogan compared with other Republicans on the ballot.

“I think it speaks to Hogan creating his own identity in a year when Democrats were motivated to vote for Democrats,” said Eberly. “I think a lot of Democrats justified their vote for Hogan by voting Democrat everywhere else.”

Those votes cost Hogan and his party.

Steve Schuh and Allan Kittleman, Republican incumbents in Anne Arundel and Howard counties, respectively, lost their bids for re-election to their county executive jobs despite Hogan carrying both counties.

Those defeats could have effects on the race for governor in four year as both were considered strong contenders for governor in 2022 when Hogan completes his second and final term.

Republican executive candidates in Baltimore and Frederick counties also lost despite Hogan performing well in those jurisdictions.

In Baltimore County, Hogan’s hand-picked candidate, Al Redmer, lost to Democratic Party nominee John Olszewski Jr.

And the Republican Party’s fate was mixed in legislative races.

In the House of Delegates, the minority party lost at least six of their current 49 members, including:

  • In District 3B in Frederick County, Democrat Ken Kerr defeated Republican Del. William “Bill” Folden.
  • In District 8 in Baltimore County, Democrat Harry Bhandari won one of three seats, ousting Republican Del. Joe Cluster.
  • In District 9B in Howard County, former Democratic Councilwoman Courtney Watson defeated Del. Robert Flanagan.
  • Del. Deb Rey, a first-term Republican in District 29B in St. Mary’s County, was defeated by Democrat Brian Crosby.
  • In District 30A, a seat once held by retiring Republican Del. Herm McMillan has gone to Democrat Alice Cain.
  • In District 42A in Baltimore County, Michelle Guyton appears likely to win one of two seats held by Republicans. She leads Tim Robinson by 306 votes.

A seventh race remains undecided as Del. Glen Glass, R-Harford County, trails Democratic challenger Steve Johnson by 25 votes.

Hogan also placed a lot of emphasis on his so-called “Drive for Five” effort to increase the Republican Senate caucus to 19 votes and break the Democratic super majority needed to override executive vetoes.

Republicans and Democratic leaders seemed to agree on the likelihood that District 42 in Baltimore County — a seat held by Democratic Sen. Jim Brochin since 2002 — would flip to Republicans.

Republican Del. Chris West made that a reality when he defeated Democratic nominee Robbie Leonard.

Republicans scored another victory on the Eastern Shore as Del. Mary Beth Carozza defeated Democratic incumbent Sen. Jim Mathias by about 2,800 votes.

But other races focused on by Hogan did not go Republican.

Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller Jr., at a Wednesday news conference, said Gov. Larry Hogan fell far short of his goal of taking five Democratic Senate seats, having to settle for just one. (Bryan P. Sears)

Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller Jr., at a Wednesday news conference, said Gov. Larry Hogan fell far short of his goal of taking five Democratic Senate seats, having to settle for just one. (Bryan P. Sears)

“His other goal was to defeat five senators, the drive for five. He was successful in defeating one,” said Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller Jr., emphasizing the point by holding up a single finger. “If you’re a school teacher and grade on a scale of 1-100, he gets a 20. He gets a D.”

Adding to Miller’s assessment of Hogan is what the longtime leader of the Senate said is what appears to be the likely defeat of Republican Sen. Gale Bates, R-Howard County.

Bates trails Katie Fry Hester by less than 160 votes.

Bates, in a brief comment Wednesday, said she will not concede before absentee ballots are counted.

Miller declared Hester’s victory “a great surprise.”

“Her victory was a wonderful victory,” said Miller. “She’s a fine candidate.”

But Miller rejected the idea that the turnout and the election represented a repudiation of Republicans. Instead, he said, voters rewarded Democratic lawmakers.

The Senate leader offered soft praise for Ben Jealous, Hogan’s opponent, saying the Democrat “ran the best campaign possible.”

But he also criticized some of Jealous’ campaign promises as too far to the left for Maryland, calling a proposal to cut the sales tax by half a penny but holding out the possibility of an increase to pay for universal health care as “gimmickry.”

I think he did the best he could under the circumstances. If we’d had our county executive from Prince George’s County, Rushern Baker, the Democrat would have done a whole lot better. If we’d had the former chair of the Board of Regents, Jim Shea, the Democrat would have done better,” said Miller.

“(Jealous’) message might have played better in California than here in Maryland.”

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