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Hogan won’t run for Senate, despite full-court press from GOP

Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan has ruled out at least one possible political option.

Without being asked, Hogan, a term-limited Republican, Tuesday said he wanted to “put to rest” questions about a potential challenge to incumbent Democratic U.S. Sen. Chris Van Hollen in 2022.

“I sincerely appreciate all the people who have been encouraging me to consider it. A number of people said they thought I could make a difference in the Senate and be a voice of common sense and moderation. I was certainly humbled by that and it gave me and my family reason to consider it.”

Hogan said he remains committed to his current job and a term that ends in January. “I plan to run through the tape at the finish next January,” he said.

How much it was considered is unclear.

“I have repeatedly said I don’t aspire to be a United States senator and that has not changed,” the two-term executive said. “Over the past week, as I was working on my State of the State address, it really drove home for me even more clearly just how important it is that I finish the work that we’ve started together here.”

Hogan’s announcement was long-waited if not unexpected. Most observers discounted the possibility he would ultimately challenge Van Hollen.

Hogan’s job approval, already high for a Republican, has remained steady into his final year. The results of a recent poll released by Annapolis-based Gonzales Polls Inc. showed none of the voter fatigue that typically afflicts governors late in their second terms.

Two polls, one by the Washington Post and another internal poll, suggested Hogan could not only compete with Van Hollen but win. Maryland has not had a Republican in the U.S. Senate since Charles McC. Mathias was defeated by Barbara Mikulski in 1986.

“Yes, I believe we would have won the race,” said Hogan, citing polls. “But just because you can win a race doesn’t mean that’s the job you should do if your heart’s not in it. I just didn’t see myself being a U.S. senator.”

The Hill reported in January that top Republicans including Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Kentucky, were actively recruiting Hogan. McConnell even sent his wife, former Cabinet Secretary Elaine Chao, to meet with Hogan’s wife, Yumi, to try to persuade the governor to jump in the race, The Associated Press reported.

Hogan, speaking Tuesday, said he informed both McConnell, Sens. Mitt Romney and Susan Collins. He said he also called Van Hollen “to let him know he could rest easy and get a good night’s sleep.”

The governor, speaking during The Daily Record’s Eye on Annapolis Summit, said he was uninterested in “spending all day arguing with 99 other people. I’m used to running things.”

Still, he would not definitively say he had told McConnell and others to stop approaching him.

Hogan, who has raised his national profile considerably over the last five years, intends to stay relevant in national politics.

He told reporters he does not “plan to sit on the sidelines when it comes to the serious challenges facing our country and our democracy. I’m going to continue to call it like I see it, and I’ll keep speaking out about the divisiveness and dysfunction in Washington.”

Ending the speculation on a Senate run may only intensify questions about a potential presidential campaign.

“In January 2023 I’ll have a lot of time to think about that,” he said. “I think the world’s going to be a different place a year from now.”

Hogan, whose moderate political persona conflicts with that of the party’s de facto leader Donald Trump, said a decision to run for president will not be based on whether the former president runs again in 2024.

“It would be based on whether I think I could make a difference and whether it’s the right decision for me and my family,” said Hogan. “I wouldn’t care whether the former president runs or not.”