Category Archives: Larry Hogan

Miller Causes a Huge Headache for Maryland Democrats

By Adam Pagnucco.

Democrats all over the country have lately been demanding that Confederate statues and other monuments celebrating slavery be taken down.  That extends to Maryland, where Baltimore Mayor Cathy Pugh had four Confederate monuments removed in the middle of the night.  But when Maryland Democrats demanded that an Annapolis statue of former U.S. Supreme Court Chief Justice Roger Taney also be removed, they ran into opposition from arguably the state’s most powerful Democratic politician: Senate President Mike Miller.

Democrats’ objections to Taney are rooted in his authoring of the U.S. Supreme Court’s Dred Scott decision, which held that descendants of Africans imported as slaves into the U.S. could not be American citizens.  In 2015, Governor Larry Hogan defended the Taney statue in Annapolis in the Washington Post.

Gov. Larry Hogan (R) says he is opposed to a change in the state song and likened the effort to calls for removing the statue of Supreme Court Chief Justice Roger Brooke Taney, author of the pro-slavery Dred Scott decision, from the grounds of the State House.

“It’s political correctness run amok,” Hogan said in an interview last week. “Where do we stop? Do we get rid of the George Washington statues out here and take down all the pictures from all the people from the Colonial era that were slave owners? Do we change the name of Washington County, Carroll County and Calvert County?

“You can’t change history, and we’re not going to be able to rewrite history,” Hogan said. “And I don’t think we ought to be changing any of that.”

After Democrats including House Speaker Mike Busch pushed back this week, Hogan changed his mind and agreed to remove the statue.  The Governor was one of three members of the four-member board with jurisdiction over the statue to vote for removal.  But one member of the board objected to the process of deciding the issue by email: Senate President Mike Miller.  In his letter, Miller argued that Taney opposed slavery and “freed his slaves early in his life,” joined an “anti-kidnapping society” to protect free blacks and remained loyal to the Union until his death.  Miller also cited support for the statue from former Baltimore City Delegate Pete Rawlings and a descendant of Dred Scott.  We reprint the letter below.

Whatever one thinks of Miller’s opinion, it’s a big headache for Maryland Democrats.  Much of their strategy to oppose Governor Hogan has been to criticize him for silence in the face of actions by President Donald Trump.  That strategy has affected the behavior of the Governor, who just said that Trump “made a terrible mistake” in his comments on the white supremacist invasion of Charlottesville.  But what of Miller?  If his comments on the Taney statue had come from Hogan, Maryland Democrats would be swarming all over him.  What happens when such sentiments come from one of the most powerful Democrats in the state?

One Democrat who did not blanch from criticizing the Senate President was Senator Rich Madaleno (D-18), who is running for Governor.  Madaleno wrote on Facebook that Miller “is wrong.”

The rest of the Democrats now have a choice.  They can be intellectually honest and take on one of the leaders of their party.  Or they can ignore Miller and look like hypocrites.

As with Hogan on Trump, silence is not an option.

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Madaleno Releases Video Pointing Out Hogan and Trump Made Same Points on Statues

This morning, Richard Madaleno’s gubernatorial released a video demonstrating how Trump’s words on Tuesday defending white supremacists in Charlottesville parallel closely similar statements made previously by Gov. Larry Hogan. Sen. Madaleno has been Hogan’s strongest critic in the General Assembly, and his campaign now reveals the same willingness to go after the Governor.

On Tuesday, Trump stated:

So this week, it is Robert E. Lee, I noticed that Stonewall Jackson is coming down. I wonder, is it George Washington next week? And is it Thomas Jefferson the week after? You know, you really do have to ask yourself, where does it stop.

Defending the statue of Justice Taney, author of the infamous Dred Scott decision, on Lawyers Mall in the heart of the State Capitol complex, Hogan said similarly:

What you say let’s take down the Taney statue. We have Thurgood Marshall on this side and Taney on that side. They’re both part of our history. We just opened a couple days ago the Old Senate Chamber. Where George Washington resigned his commission. George Washington was a slave owner. Should we remove him from the State House?

In other words, Hogan showed himself able even earlier than Trump to make facile, benighted comparisons between the father of our country and other more contemptible figures because both are “part of history.” Should we put up statues of traitorous Benedict Arnold? What about corrupt Spiro Agnew? They too are a “part of history.”

As Eugene Robinson explained well, despite their imperfections, founders like Washington and Jefferson  “laid out a set of principles, later codified in the Constitution and the Bill of Rights, that transcended their flaws.” In contrast, the centerpiece of Taney’s work was a decision widely considered the worst in American history for its denial of the basic humanity of black Americans and declaring that they remained property even if they escaped bondage and found refuge in free territory.

It’s sad that Hogan could not see the difference until this week.

[Note: I am a supporter of Madaleno’s campaign.]

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Hogan Abuses Constituents on Facebook

By Adam Pagnucco.

Evidently frustrated by having his message eclipsed by the stunning behavior of President Donald Trump, thin-skinned Governor Larry Hogan is now lashing out at constituents on Facebook.

Hogan, who has blocked constituents from his Facebook page in the past, put up a post on redistricting on June 3.  The post linked to an article blasting General Assembly Democrats on a website run by right-wing radio host Laura Ingraham.  But some folks weren’t buying what Hogan was selling and that set the Governor off.

One person posted – politely – on President Trump’s decision to withdraw from the Paris climate treaty.

Hogan accused her of “spouting off.”

Hogan wasn’t done, saying, “You obviously have no idea what you are talking about” and referring to her comments as an “off topic, incorrect rant.”

Another constituent expressed support for the General Assembly’s bill providing for multi-state redistricting, which Hogan vetoed.  Hogan said she was part of a “tiny minority” and encouraged her to “stop liking our page.”

And that wasn’t enough.  Hogan came back for more even as outraged constituents pushed back.

When another constituent asked about the Paris climate treaty, Hogan responded, “You are not only off topic but ill informed.”

When asked about the climate treaty again, Hogan said, “Yes. We are leading the nation on this subject. Pay attention.”

Facebook can be an unruly environment for political discussion.  Constituents are real, live people and don’t always restrict their remarks to the topics favored by politicians.  Elected officials and candidates have a right to ban racist, anti-Semitic, bigoted, sexist, profane or libelous commentary from their pages.  But none of the above comments fall into those categories.  None of them warrant the rude responses written under the Governor’s name.

Hogan owes these folks an apology.

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Hogan Demagogues on Immigration to Raise Money

By Adam Pagnucco.

Governor Larry Hogan is now sending out fundraising letters for his reelection campaign.  Much of the language is consistent with what we have heard from the Governor before and would be standard for many Republican candidates.  But the solicitation ends with a fear-mongering assault on immigration that is perfectly consistent with the GOP in the Era of Trump.

Hogan’s four-page letter starts as you might expect.  He discusses “failed liberal leadership” and people being “sick and tired of politics as usual.”  He refers to himself as “simply a small businessman, concerned citizen and lifelong Marylander who was fed up with the never ending tax and fee increases and status quo politicians in Annapolis.”  He then goes on to describe how he changed all that by passing three budgets with no tax increases, reducing or eliminating fees and getting rid of “job-killing regulations.”  Amusingly, he claims, “I was not a politician when I ran for Governor in 2014… and I am not one now.”  So far, this is unremarkable.  This has been the Governor’s message for years and we would expect this to show up in a fundraising letter.

But then he closed with this.

We have to fight back.  Maryland’s future depends on it.

With so much at stake, I am reaching out to committed commonsense conservatives from across the state.  You are one [sic] our state’s most loyal activists and I could really use your help.  Will you please do me the honor of joining my team to help keep moving Maryland forward and help me push back against a far left agenda and the worst instincts of an increasingly liberal and out-of-touch State Legislature?

How out of touch are they?  Instead of focusing on positive change and the safety of our citizens, they have instead been focusing their efforts on trying to make our state a safe haven for criminals here illegally.

Let me be very clear: we cannot allow Maryland to become a sanctuary state.  Our local law enforcement should be doing more – not less – to make sure criminals here illegally are turned over to federal immigration officials.  The rule of law must come first and we will do whatever we can to stop any so-called “sanctuary bills” that would limit how jails and police could assist federal authorities.

Astonishingly, this letter was sent to a Democrat in Montgomery County.

Hogan is not telling the truth about the Maryland Trust Act, which passed the House of Delegates but not the Senate.  The bill that passed the House would not have prevented jails from turning criminals over to ICE and it would not have forbidden counties from participating in the federal government’s 287(g) program to identify criminals wanted by ICE.  It would have prevented jails from holding inmates past their sentence dates without a court warrant, which simply restates the policy followed by Hogan’s own state-run jail in Baltimore.  It would also have prevented police from questioning people on the street about their immigration status, something that happened in Bel Air just a few months ago.  Does Hogan favor detaining people past their sentence dates and having local police randomly check residents’ immigration status without cause?  Perhaps he does since he inaccurately attacks this legislation as a “sanctuary bill.”

The broader point is that Hogan is using immigration demagoguery and fear-mongering to raise money.  That is very different from the image he cultivates in public of being non-partisan, non-ideological and uninterested in divisive social issues.  In this fundraising letter, we see the Real Hogan away from the cameras and the press podium – a politician willing to exploit fear and xenophobia to get reelected.

Our current President would no doubt approve.

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Hogan’s Point Man on Health Care Wants to Destroy the Affordable Care Act

By Adam Pagnucco.

Governor Larry Hogan may be silent on the efforts by President Donald Trump and congressional Republicans to gut health care, but his newly appointed Chair of the Maryland Health Care Commission has been anything but silent.  To the contrary, Hogan’s new point man on health care has openly advocated for the destruction of the Affordable Care Act.

Robert E. Moffit, whom Hogan appointed Chair of the Maryland Health Care Commission on May 9, will now be playing a critical role in administering Maryland’s health care system.  The commission is an independent agency with broad regulatory powers over health care providers in areas including IT, data reporting, performance evaluations, certificates of need authorizing new hospitals and expansions and much more.  Moffit’s appointment would normally be confirmed by the Maryland State Senate, but since they do not return to Annapolis until next year, Moffit will have plenty of time to make his mark on the state’s health care system.

And that could be quite a mark.  During his tenure as Senior Fellow at the Heritage Foundation, Moffit was a leading critic of the ACA, which provides health coverage to more than 400,000 Marylanders, and called for it to be repealed as soon as possible.  Consider his views.

1.  In one of many screeds against the ACA, Moffit said it was experiencing “multi-organ failure” and that “central planning is the disease.”  One wonders what he thinks about other “centrally planned” health care systems like Medicare and the Veterans Health Administration.

2.  Moffit wrote that Congress “should kill the employer mandate entirely,” thus leaving employees to fend for themselves in health care as they did before the ACA was passed.

3.  Moffit enthusiastically endorsed the GOP’s plan to issue waivers to states so that they could excuse insurers from having to cover pre-existing conditions.  In an article entitled “House Health Care Bill Moving in the Right Direction,” he wrote, “President Barack Obama and his allies in Congress should never have imposed centralized federal control over diverse state health insurance markets in the first place.  While the best solution would be to repeal that federal overreach, the proposed waiver is a significant improvement over current law. Its practical effect is to achieve a devolution of health insurance rulemaking back to the states.”

4.  Just weeks after Hogan appointed him, Moffit cheered on Trump’s budget, which called for $800 billion in cuts to Medicaid and converting it into a block grant program.  Moffit wrote: “By putting Medicaid on a budget—either through a fixed allotment to the states in the form of a block grant or a per capita cap—the Trump budget would give state officials much needed flexibility in managing the program and better target services to the poorest and most vulnerable of our citizens.”

5.  Last November, when criticizing the ACA’s poll numbers, Moffit wrote, “What ‘progressive’ politicians want, and their academic and media cheerleaders like, most Americans don’t want or like.”  According to Gallup, the ACA’s approval rating went from 42% at the time Moffit wrote his article to 55% in April.  Apparently, Americans want to have health care after all.

6.  Moffit called the Republican House bill replacing the ACA “a major improvement over current law.”  Yesterday, the Congressional Budget Office found that the House bill would increase the number of Americans without health coverage by 23 million by 2026.  The office said, “Premiums would vary significantly according to health status and the types of benefits provided, and less healthy people would face extremely high premiums.”

In selecting Moffit, Governor Hogan has broken his silence on the Affordable Care Act.  Moffit’s views are longstanding, well developed and very public.  If Hogan had major disagreements with him on the ACA, why would he appoint him to one of the most powerful health care positions in Maryland?  Actions speak louder than words, and this action speaks volumes.

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Trump’s Silent Partner

Gov. Larry Hogan loves a good press conference. There is nothing that this Republican administration does quite as well as trumpet his support for the latest poll-tested political trend. Hogan’s complete willingness to go along with Trump’s efforts at the federal level, even when they contradict his supposed issue positions, illustrates the triumph of optics over substance.

Hogan has decided to tackle the State’s opioid crisis. He wants limits on prescriptions and stronger penalties for dealers. But when Trump and Ryan proposed a health care overall that would have eliminated treatment for opioid addiction covered under the Affordable Care Act, a.k.a. Obamacare, Hogan said nothing.

Hogan claims he was always opposed to fracking, even though he was for it right up until he was against it. After rattling on at length at a press conference about the importance of Maryland’s natural environment, he said nothing in response to EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt’s announcement that Trump would repeal the Clean Power Plan.

Hogan proposed a sick leave bill that would cover few people while giving the impression that he cared about the issue. After holding a press conference touting for the bill, he has had virtually no interaction with the legislature on the issue beyond threatening to veto the more substantive Democratic version of the bill. This puts him right in league with his silent partner, Trump, who has promised to expand sick leave but so far done nothing.

If it’s any comfort, Hogan is just as willing to not stand up to Trump on conservative priorities either. While he was happy to trot off to Asia on a trade mission–what Republicans called a “junket” when Gov. Martin O’Malley did the same thing–he has said nothing about the proposed Trump-Ryan “border adjustment tax,” more commonly known as a tariff. Conservatives normally criticize such policies as raising prices on ordinary Americans, bad for business, and dumb economic policy. Not Silent Larry.

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Hogan’s Incoherent, Petulant Fracking Ban Press Conference

Gov. Larry Hogan’s press conference in which he announced his support for the fracking ban pushed by Democrats in the legislature was vintage Hogan in its petulance and dissembling.

As much as he tries to pretend, Hogan just doesn’t do bipartisanship well. He could have just gotten up and celebrated that Republicans and Democrats agreed to support a fracking ban. Instead, he had to dissemble about his own past record and blame Democrats:

Our administration proposed the toughest regulations in all 50 states of the United States of America. The regulations that we proposed would have made it virtually impossible for anyone to ever engage in fracking in Maryland. However, the legislature has failed to act, or enact, these tough regulations.

The horse manure in the last two sentences is so heavy that one needs a shovel to parse through it, but here goes. First, Hogan’s proposed regulations would not have made it “virtually impossible” to ban fracking.

The entire point of Hogan’s proposal was to allow fracking to go forward while claiming it would be environmentally safe. After all, if Hogan just wanted to ban fracking, he could have just supported the bill that had already passed the House of Delegates banning it in the first place.

Attacking the Democrats for failing to enact his regulations is just bizarre. Regulations are promulgated by the executive branch, so any failure here rests on Hogan and not the General Assembly. Now, he attacks Democrats, as he signs on to a Democratic bill to ban fracking opposed by many Republicans.

Hogan thrashed about in the press conference and lashed out at Democrats because the General Assembly cornered him into supporting the fracking ban against his will. In particular, he went after Senate President Mike Miller:

The choice to me is clear. Either you support a ban on fracking or you are for fracking. It came to my attention today that Senate President Miller, Sen. Paul Pinsky and others are working on a plan that would open a door to fracking in Maryland. They are pushing to put a referendum on the ballot that would allow for fracking. Because the legislature has failed to enact our tough regulations, and because there is now a move by the Senate President to allow for fracking, today, I have decided to announce my full support for the Maryland fracking ban.

More Hogan incoherence. If you either “support a ban on fracking or you are for fracking,” then why did Hogan take so long to support a ban? Why did he support regulations that were designed to allow fracking, even though he now pretends otherwise? Furthermore, if the Governor has really always been against fracking, why was he so bitter that the legislature was moving toward adopting a ban?

Ironically, Hogan tipped his hand during his fulminations. Miller’s proposed referendum would have put fracking on the ballot during Hogan’s reelection bid. Hogan didn’t want to have to defend his regulations to allow fracking as environmental, so he caved to the Democrats.

Hogan had another political goal in his seemingly incoherent railing against the failure to adopt his regulations designed to allow fracking even as he claims that they would have banned fracking. Specifically, he would like to shore up support among Garrett and Allegany Republicans who are not happy with the Governor and very much supported fracking in Western Maryland.

(Headline: Hogan stands up to Western Maryland to support fracking ban.)

As it turns out, Hogan did not consult any members of Garrett or Allegany’s legislative delegation before the press conference:

Sen. George Edwards registered disappointment Friday after learning of a press conference in which Gov. Larry Hogan announced his support for a fracking ban. Edwards and the three delegates who make up the District 1 Delegation have been staunch advocates for hydraulic fracturing in Western Maryland. Hogan had not indicated in the past year that he opposed fracking, much less expressing any desire for an outright ban, according to Edwards. . . . “It would have been nice to have known this a month ago,” said Edwards. “It would have saved us this back and forth over the issue.”

The statements by Edwards, a Hogan ally, provide more evidence that Hogan has not always opposed fracking, despite his statements to the contrary at the press conference. The Hagerstown Herald-Mail similarly reports that Hogan had taken a “wait-and-see position” until Miller made his move.

While “nobody puts Baby in a corner,” the Democrats sure cornered Larry who, even as he whined about it to the end, adopted their position. Like Trump with his failure on health care, Hogan now wants Democrats to feel bad about it. But somehow, I don’t think that’s gonna happen.

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Washington Post Poll Shows Hogan Vulnerability

By Adam Pagnucco.

Governor Larry Hogan loves to discuss his high approval ratings in polls, which have usually been in the range of 60-70%.  But a new Washington Post poll that examines his reelection prospects shows that they are well below his approval numbers and provides hope to Maryland Democrats.

The Post poll of March 16-19 has sample sizes of 914 adults and 841 registered voters.  The margin of error for those two groups is 4 points, growing to 5.5 points for a half-sample and 6.5 points for the 317 respondents who live in Maryland’s D.C. suburbs.  These margins of error must be kept in mind when reading the poll –  effectively, only large gaps are meaningful for small sub-groups.

With that significant caveat in mind, let’s examine data on Hogan’s reelection prospects.  The Post asked respondents the following question: “Thinking about Maryland’s Governor’s race in 2018… if Larry Hogan ran for re-election as governor, do you think you would vote for him OR for the candidate nominated by the Democratic Party?”  Among adults, 39% said they would vote for Hogan and 36% said they would vote for the Democratic nominee, an advantage of 3 points for the Governor.  Among registered voters, 41% said they would vote for Hogan and 37% said they would vote for the Democrat, a margin of plus 4.  So far, this looks very much like Hogan’s 4-point victory in 2014.

But the sub-group results are more interesting.  We compiled the Post’s sub-group data on this question in the presentation below.

Let’s recall the margin of error estimates above.  Margins of 10-15 points or less for small sub-groups are probably not very meaningful.  That said, many of the Governor’s strengths are predictable.  He does well with Republicans, Conservatives, Whites and rural residents.  He is weak among Democrats, liberals, African Americans and Prince George’s residents.  One item that stands out is his strength with seniors, with whom he has a 17-point advantage.  Seniors are among the most reliable voters in any election.

Now let’s compare the geographic results of this poll with how the Governor actually performed in 2014.

The Governor appears stronger in the poll in Baltimore and the Washington suburbs, but weaker elsewhere than in 2014.  This could be statistical noise due to large margins of error.  But it could also be the result of tax fatigue in some Democratic strongholds, like Montgomery (where voters recently passed term limits by 40 points) and Prince George’s (where the County Executive proposed a 15% increase in property taxes two years ago).  It’s hard to believe that the Governor is actually weaker in Anne Arundel and Howard, both of which have Republican Executives who are strongly favored for reelection.  (And a random question: what pollster combines Baltimore City and County in one estimate?  C’Mon, Man!)

The big takeaway from the poll is this: Larry Hogan will not be coasting to reelection.  Maryland is simply not wired that way.  It has too many Democrats, African Americans, liberals, immigrants and people who are either employed by or do business with government at some level to give any GOP statewide incumbent a blowout win.  From a purely political perspective, the Governor deserves credit for his focused message of tax cuts, job growth and reform (like redistricting) while trying his best to avoid distractions from the right, the left and Washington D.C.  His approach gives him a path to victory in a rather blue state.  But if the Democrats begin preparing now, play smart and field a good candidate for Governor, Larry Hogan can be defeated.

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Hogan Exploits Rape for Politics

By Adam Pagnucco.

Governor Larry Hogan is now exploiting the rape of a Rockville high school student to get a political edge over General Assembly Democrats.  It’s a clearly deplorable tactic.  But will it work?

Two big stories are colliding at the moment to further inflame the volatile issue of how to deal with illegal immigration.  First, the House of Delegates has passed a version of the Maryland Law Enforcement and Trust Act, a bill to limit state and local cooperation with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) so that immigrant communities will not hide from police for fear of arbitrary deportation.  Second, two students at Rockville High School have been arrested for raping a 14-year-old at the school and were subsequently alleged by ICE to be present in the country illegally.

Governor Hogan reacted with the Facebook post below, saying:

The post garnered 700 shares and 500 comments in its first five hours, accomplishing its purpose of throwing gasoline on the fire of the immigration debate.

The implication of the Governor’s post is that Montgomery County does not currently cooperate with federal authorities.  But in fact, it does.  The Washington Post’s Bill Turque summarized the county’s immigration policy a month ago:

Montgomery police operate under a 2009 directive that bars officers from conducting “indiscriminate questioning” of suspects, witnesses or prisoners about immigration status. Once in custody, all prisoners are fingerprinted, and arrest information goes into state databases, where it is available to ICE. If the agency identifies an undocumented prisoner, it can send the county a “detainer” notice, asking that the person remain in custody for at least 48 hours beyond the scheduled release date.

The county complied with detainers until 2014, when the Maryland attorney general’s office issued an opinion advising localities that they could be liable for damages by holding prisoners past their release date.

Since then, Montgomery officials said, the county honors detainers only if they are supported by a federal court order or warrant. It will also provide ICE publicly available release dates of undocumented immigrants who have committed felonies and whom the agency is seeking to deport.

The county has released hundreds of prisoners to ICE since 2012, though the pace of releases has dropped since the county stopped honoring 48-hour detainers.  The amended version of the House-passed Trust Act resembles county policy.  On the Rockville High School rape suspects, County Executive Ike Leggett said, “The county — consistent with our longstanding policy — will cooperate fully with ICE to see that the two are deported to their countries of origin.”

Why would Hogan insinuate that Montgomery County does not cooperate with federal law enforcement to protect its citizens?  Hogan knows that there is little support in the community for protecting violent criminals from deportation.  A new CNN poll finds that 60% of Americans believe the government should be “developing a plan to allow those in the U.S. illegally who have jobs to become legal residents,” but it also finds that 78% of Americans believe that “the government should attempt to deport all people currently living in the country illegally who have been convicted of other crimes while living in the U.S.”  Big majorities of every demographic group measured support the latter statement, including 64% of Democrats.

Depicting Maryland’s largest local jurisdiction as soft on crime is bad enough.  Exploiting a rape for political gain is even worse.  Such tactics expose just how hard the Governor can throw his elbows in partisan combat.  Forget about engaging with General Assembly leaders to develop good public policy; the Governor has never been interested in that.  But the cold political truth is this:

If Hogan can get away with characterizing Democrats as protectors of rapists and other criminals, he wins.

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