Tag Archives: Larry Hogan

Hogan by the Numbers

The following chart shows the share of the vote received by Gov. Larry Hogan in each county as well as the swing from 2014:

Hogan won majorities in all but four jurisdictions and carried all but the big Democratic three of Montgomery, Baltimore City and Prince George’s. (He won a plurality in Charles.)

In heavily Democratic Montgomery, Hogan won an impressive 44.5%-an unheard of percentage for Republicans in this Democratic heartland. An impressive number of people must have cast ballots both for Larry Hogan and for Marc Elrich.

While Prince George’s was Hogan’s worst county, he made his strongest gains there in picking up an additional 13.4% of the vote, suggesting that the Governor made strong gains in the African-American community. Ben Jealous also lost nearly one-third of the vote in Baltimore City.

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How Will Turnout Matter This Election Cycle?

I’ve been covering who has been turning out in early voting heavily the past few days. There is little evidence of a wave of young voters turning out that will carry the Democrats to victory. At the same time, the electorate looks much improved for Democrats from 2014 even if it is not showing signs of being as favorable to them as the 2016 presidential electorate.

Of course, we won’t know the complete picture about how turnout has changed from either 2014 or 2016 until all the votes have been cast. But it seems important to take a moment to pause from statistics to  consider when and how turnout dynamics matter.

Turnout Won’t Matter in the Governor’s Race

Based on the polls, Ben Jealous is in dire trouble. In a future post, I hope to explore why Jealous is flailing despite Maryland’s favorable demographics that should be even more favorable due to shifts in voting behavior unleashed by Trump in a future post. In a nutshell, he losing far too much of the Democratic base.

Anthony Brown fared poorly among white voters four years ago. Ben Jealous looks set to do even worse even as Democrats elsewhere look poised to make substantial gains among highly educated women. Equally problematic, he is hemorrhaging support among nonwhite voters.

Even the most favorable Democratic turnout wind cannot save Jealous from these fundamental problems. They could help close the gap with Hogan but that would merely serve to make his loss somewhat more respectable. But there is no way that Jealous can win the election if he loses roughly 30% of Democratic voters as polls currently indicate.

Who Votes Matters More Down Ballot

Republicans are hoping that there will be a Larry Hogan wave that gives them enough seats in the General Assembly to uphold his veto in at least one house. They’ve focused particularly hard pm the Senate in their “drive for five.”

Except to my surprise in our polarized era, voters seem quite inclined to split their tickets. The same polls that show Larry Hogan receiving a vote share in the high 50s reveal similar proportions wanting Democrats to control the legislature.

In 2014, the Republicans picked up the low hanging fruit in several districts that had long leaned more Republican in national elections and became even more so with Trumpian populism. But there were simply enormous gaps in support for Hogan and Republican legislative candidates elsewhere.

That pattern could easily appear again in 2018. Gov. Hogan has framed this election as a vote to maintain what he presents as our much improved status quo and that he works well with the legislature. That’s hardly an argument to throw out Democrats in the General Assembly.

Republicans are hoping that better candidates and huge financial investments will change this dynamic. But Democrats who defect for Hogan may not be so quick to do so when presented with different candidates. Democrats who think Hogan is fine or Jealous has too many unrealistically expensive plans will often find their local Democratic candidate better attuned to their patch and deem the Republican too right wing.

In Senate races with Democratic incumbents fighting a tough battle for reelection, such as Ron Young in Frederick or Kathy Klausmeier in Baltimore County, a more favorable electorate could provide them with a crucial cushion.

It could also make a difference in the many exciting county executive races and help, for example, carry Johnny Oleszewski into office in Baltimore County. The races in Howard and Anne Arundel have also tightened, though it’s unclear how much. If Democratic challengers can get within a few points, a more favorable electorate could open the door to an upset. It won’t be enough to overcome a spread that looks more like 55-45.

In short, this year, turnout dynamics look likely to have the potential to play a crucial difference around the margins but the candidates have to get close enough for the margin to make a difference.

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Sorry Larry, Not Nearly Good Enough on Trump

Gov. Larry Hogan has received plaudits for his willingness to utter any criticisms of Donald Trump’s grotesque behavior, in contrast to the lapdog approach that prevails among Republicans. Nevertheless, Hogan has been quite reluctant to criticize Trump and extremely strategic in both when and how he does it.

Larry Hogan relies regularly on one excuse to explain his usual unwillingness to comment on Trump:

But during the Obama administration, during the Trump administration, I always said: “I didn’t run for Congress. I didn’t run for the Senate. I’m not in Washington. My focus — what they hired me to do — was run the state of Maryland.”

Funnily enough, Hogan’s self-proclaimed laser-like focus on Maryland and reticence to attack the president or engage in national policy debates fell away when he opposed allowing Syrian refugees to be settled in Maryland when Barack Obama was president. Who knew that states set refugee policy?

In contrast, Hogan had nothing to say on Trump’s Muslim ban because “it didn’t rise to the point where it was something I thought I should weigh in on” notwithstanding massive protests at BWI. Earlier this year, Hogan opposed the separation of kids from parents at the border when Trump’s reactionary immigration policy threatened to imperil his own political future.

It’s not unusual that Hogan’s pique at having to comment on issues outside of Maryland melts away quickly when it suits his purposes. Taking time to campaign for Chris Christie in New Jersey and Ed Gillespie in Virginia sure wasn’t part of running Maryland. Hogan went out and stumped for Gillespie even as the campaign emulated Corey Stewart and went full Trump in its demagoguery.

In contrast, Hogan had nothing to say about the Republican tax bill in Washington that ended the state and local tax deduction – a major hit on many of his Maryland constituents. Sure seems news of the weird when a Republican won’t attack Washington for raising taxes on his constituents.

Even a cursory analysis reveals that Hogan’s gentle criticisms of Trump’s policies are often made without mentioning the president. Sstatements on Trump himself are usually calibrated carefully to appeal to Trump supporters even as he maintains his political viability in this heavily Democratic state.

Hogan’s statements on the Mueller investigation are typical. Right after Hogan said that ending the Mueller investigation “would be a step too far,” the Governor reflexively echoed the president’s talking point that “the investigation is going too far afield of its original intent.”

It’s classic Hogan, sound centrist but then immediately pivot to shore up the Trump base. Incredibly, Hogan also stated that “I can’t sit in judgment. Whether I like what’s going on, the people overwhelmingly elected him as president.” Overwhelmingly.

Yes, Hogan has clearly spoken out more than most Republican politicians. But it has been only occasionally and grudgingly. He benefits enormously from grade inflation stemming from the supine posture of virtually all Republicans towards Donald Trump.

When you think about the endless Republican efforts to somehow turn the tragedy in Benghazi into a crime by Hillary Clinton, their total lack of interest in any of Trump’s public violation of our laws and democratic norms is even more amazing.

Gov. Larry Hogan has greater responsibility to speak up precisely because he is a Republican. It ought to be more reprehensible to him when a member of his own party acts abominably than a Democrat because it reflects on his party.

Moreover, as a member of the same party, statements by Hogan against Trump’s routine breakage of presidential and democratic norms would carry more weight in our overly polarized era. Hogan has handled Trump very deftly from a political perspective. But political acumen is not the same as moral leadership.

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Why is Ben Jealous Losing? One Reason: Money

In a state that voted over 60% for Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton and in which 48% of voters strongly disapprove of Donald Trump, you’d think our Republican Governor would face a steep climb to reelection. In an interview with Mother Jones early this year, Jealous claimed “Donald Trump will take care of Larry Hogan.”

it’s just not working out that way. Even if the race tightens, most polls suggest that Larry Hogan is about to romp home with the largest victory margin for a Republican in eons. Jealous’s campaign manager complains feebly that the “polling is just wrong.”

What happened?

All campaigns understandably like to describe themselves as people powered but money remains the mother’s milk of politics. The campaign with the most money doesn’t always win but more money doesn’t hurt. Even if they can’t raise more than their opponent, campaigns need enough of the green to get their message out. The 2018 gubernatorial race has been no exception.

In the Democratic primary, Jealous used his national connections to handily out raise his opponents. Moreover, organizations pay attention to fundraising and Jealous leveraged his prowess to gain further support.

Jealous benefited additionally from outside expenditures in excess of $1 million that paid for a burst of television ads in Baltimore as the campaign drew to a close. Put in context, this amount exceeded the total raised by any single candidate according to the final pre-primary campaign finance report.

In an uncomfortable symmetry, Jealous now finds himself in the position of his primary opponents. During the primary, Jealous boasted that he could raise in excess of $10 million for the general election. But Jealous raised $1.1 million in the two months following the primary.

Hogan took in $2.5 million over the same short period, leaving him a total of $9.4 million to spend at in the final months of the campaign. Compounding Jealous’s problems, the Republican Governors Association has spent  $1.4 million to boost Hogan. Unlike in the primary, no outside groups seem willing to aid Jealous.

As a result, Hogan has been able to pound home the message the Jealous is a far-left candidate and tout himself as a moderate fellow who survived cancer and turned around Maryland. Jealous’s lack of funds has left Hogan’s attacks unanswered.

Leaving aside Hogan’s barrage, I could almost swear I live in Virginia. I now know that Barbara Trumpstock votes more with Big Orange than any other Virginia representative. Genial Tim Kaine has joined her as a regular presence on the box. I even saw a stray ad for Ben Cardin. Nothing from Ben Jealous.

If the Jealous campaign is spending money to communicate by other means in my neck of the woods, they’re hiding it well. Nothing from the welter of progressive organizations backing him either. Ads for Marc Elrich have started appearing in my web searches. Nothing from Jealous. No email. No snail mail. No phone calls. No texts. No door knocking. No carrier pigeons. Nothing.

Heck, I can’t recall having laid eyes on a single yard sign for Jealous.

Despite his vaunted fundraising and community organizing skills at the NAACP, the campaign has not raised enough to be competitive in a statewide race against a strong opponent. Voters are learning little about the candidate or his message from the campaign. Larry Hogan has been happy to fill in the blanks.

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Very Belated Gubernatorial Debate Review

In 1984, citizens of Oceania use doublethink to erase events from history. That effort probably isn’t even required for the recent gubernatorial debate. If a debate occurs on MPT amid a cacophony of Trump tweets and receives only brief press coverage, did it occur?

The debate struck me as a draw at the time, and Jealous needed more than a draw even if the audience exceeded political junkies. After marinating longer on the outcome, however, I’ve come to think that Hogan did more than just get through the 55 minutes unscathed but ultimately won.

Both candidates were ridiculously over the top in discussing the State’s economy. According to Hogan, Maryland was experiencing an economic apocalypse until he came along and now it’s Morning in Maryland. In contrast, Jealous presented Maryland as impoverished and facing rack and ruin thanks to Hogan. Neither remotely resembles the state I know. Fact checking by the reporters would have been most welcome.

Hogan and Jealous both came across as smart and knowledgeable. However, Hogan had a penchant for rudely interrupting Jealous in a manner echoing Donald Trump’s debating style. Jealous was more patient but frequently went into high dudgeon and berated the governor instead of addressing the voters.

A key reason Jealous lost is that he failed to turn the debate to questions on which Hogan is on the wrong side of public opinion. The $15 minimum wage enjoys broad public support and it’s a cornerstone of Jealous’s positioning as a tribune for the forgotten. Never came up in the lengthy debates about the economy and living standards.

Another problem Jealous faced is that the tactics used to effect in the primary—getting outraged and outbidding his opponents—fell utterly flat. When Hogan brought up Jealous’s recent residency, Jealous went into high dudgeon about how laws banning interracial marriage prevented his parents from living in Maryland.

Hogan utterly destroyed Jealous in his reply, After first eloquently acknowledging the struggle faced by Jealous’s parents, Hogan then pointed out that facts nonetheless are facts. Jealous lived in California and then DC until recently and never voted in a gubernatorial primary until he voted for himself. Hogan didn’t even have to bring up his own interracial marriage.

Jealous repeatedly tried the tactic of saying that he would have acted faster and done more on any given issue as he lambasted Hogan’s response as inadequate. Jealous, for example, repeatedly derided Hogan for taking so long to declare an opioid emergency. Yet Hogan’s response that he had charged the Lieutenant Governor with coming up with a good approach that had now been adopted and made Maryland a role model sounded perfectly reasonable. Jealous’s combination of outrage and outbidding fell flat.

Jealous faced the same problem on issue after issue, as Hogan could point to sensible bills passed by the General Assembly already accomplishing these goals. Community college? Already done and trying to outbid and do more sounds expensive and requiring more taxation. Teacher pay? Hogan loves to point out we’re spending more than ever on education (notwithstanding the cuts he made) and Jealous’s proposed 29% increase in teacher pay sure leaves voters wondering who is going to pay for it when their own salaries are not rising anywhere near that fast. Wanting to release more prisoners seems oblivious to the General Assembly’s recent passage of law to accomplish that goal and feeds into Hogan’s (specious) claim that Jealous wants to unleash violent criminals on the street.

Unfortunately, Jealous also fell victim to the Democratic obsession over plans, at one point pointing out vehemently that he has a plan and Hogan didn’t. Except that voters can judge Hogan by his record, and voters care more about hearing about the general direction and clear ideas. In any case, the plans on Jealous’s website are often less specific than advertised.

The coup de grace occurred when Jealous trotted out yet again that the Baltimore Sun named him Marylander of the Year. Though there is no love lost between Hogan and the Sun, he positively enjoyed pointing out to Jealous that this was something they had in common, as he too was a past Marylander of the Year.

In short, Jealous failed to shift the debate to advantageous ground. His outbidding strategy just fed Hogan’s claim that Jealous is too extreme on policy and will raise your taxes while allowing Hogan to sound like a sensible centrist.

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LIUNA’s Endorsement of Hogan is a Big Deal

By Adam Pagnucco.

In politics, it’s an iron law that unions always endorse Democrats, yeah?  Labor is known for supplying money and manpower to the Democratic Party in an alliance dating back decades.  But the truth is more complicated owing to the complexities within the labor movement little appreciated by outsiders.  And that truth just erupted in the Governor’s race in a big way.

Recently, the Laborers International Union of North America (LIUNA), one of the largest unions in the country, endorsed Republican Governor Larry Hogan.  As the Washington Post noted, LIUNA had supported Hogan’s 2014 opponent, then-Lieutenant Governor Anthony Brown, and gave him a last-minute $500,000 loan.  Why is this such a big deal?

First, LIUNA is in part a building trades union.  A big chunk of its half a million members work in the construction industry alongside unions representing carpenters, electricians, operating engineers, iron workers, bricklayers and more.  Accordingly, it has an interest in landing construction projects for its members.  The Post reported, “A spokesman for the union said it is backing Hogan because of his emphasis on building roads and bridges – particularly his $9 billion proposal to add toll plans to Maryland’s most congested highways.”  LIUNA Mid-Atlantic Vice President Dennis Martire added, “Transportation infrastructure continues to take a back seat for many elected officials… It’s refreshing to see Governor Hogan’s proposed plans for Maryland’s roads and highways.”  Local organizations affiliated with two other building trades unions – the Roofers and the Plumbers and Pipefitters – have also endorsed Hogan.  Don’t be surprised if more trades climb on board.

Second, LIUNA is one of the most diverse unions in the country.  It represents large numbers of African Americans and Latinos who are not as socially conservative as the other trades and public safety unions that are supporting Hogan.  Many LIUNA members are government employees, and in Montgomery County, the union represents trash haulers who are employed by county contractors.  The union’s legislative agenda goes beyond traditional building trades issues.  In endorsing Rich Madaleno in the Democratic gubernatorial primary, the union cited his work on earned sick leave and the $15 minimum wage.  LIUNA also endorsed Marc Elrich for County Executive.  That’s right, folks – here is an organization that supported Madaleno, Elrich, Brown AND Hogan.

Third, LIUNA spends massive amounts on Maryland political campaigns.  From 2005 through June 2018, the union contributed $2.2 million to Maryland candidates, PACs and independent expenditure committees.  Its biggest expenditures were $678,065 to the Clean Slate Baltimore PAC opposing 2016 Mayor candidate (and former Mayor) Sheila Dixon; $528,500 to Anthony Brown’s 2014 campaign for Governor; $150,000 to the One State One Future Super PAC for Brown; $78,250 to the state Democratic Party; and $35,000 to the Progressive Maryland PAC that ran negative TV ads against County Executive candidate David Blair.  There is no indication that the union will spend any money promoting Hogan, who – Lord knows! – doesn’t need more money.  But LIUNA’s resources are now off the table for Democratic nominee Ben Jealous, who could have used them.

Speaking of Progressive Maryland, LIUNA is one of their dues-paying affiliates.  That didn’t stop Progressive Maryland from criticizing LIUNA’s endorsement of Hogan on Facebook, an almost unheard-of act by an umbrella group against a member.  That’s how much LIUNA’s choice stings the left.

Finally, consider this.  One of the most remarkable findings in the recent Gonzales poll showing a sixteen-point lead for Hogan over Jealous was its estimates for Baltimore City and Prince George’s County.  Those are two jurisdictions Jealous needs to win by big margins, but the poll shows him leading Hogan by six points in the City and thirteen points in Prince George’s.  We are skeptical that those margins will hold.  But to the extent that middle-class African Americans are a key to the election, it’s hard to think of many labor unions that represent more middle-class African Americans than LIUNA.

There’s a long way to go to Election Day and Jealous still has some large and powerful groups behind him.  But none of this is good for the Democrats.  Hogan must be smiling all the way to the hiring hall and beyond.

Disclosure: The author worked for LIUNA in 1994 and 1995 and spent sixteen years working for building trades unions.

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Who is Paying for RGA’s Campaign?

By Adam Pagnucco.

As we have previously written, the Republican Governors Association (RGA) has launched a TV and mail campaign promoting Governor Larry Hogan and attacking Democratic nominee Ben Jealous.  RGA is a 527, not a PAC or a federal political committee regulated by the FEC, and since the Citizens United decision it is free to advocate for and against candidates.  However, in Maryland, it is registered as an Independent Expenditure (IE) Committee and must disclose its contributions and expenditures.

Below are the 21 entities (17 organizations and 4 individuals) who have contributed to RGA’s Maryland IE account.  They have combined to contribute $1,037,500 to the campaign.  All but one (Gary Mangum of Bell Nursery) are from out of state.

The four healthcare and pharmaceutical companies contributed $300,000, which is interesting considering that Jealous is known for advocating single payer healthcare.  Indeed, one of RGA’s TV ads slams Jealous’s healthcare proposal over its alleged cost.  The $100,000 contribution by student testing firm Data Recognition Corporation is also noteworthy.  Is it seeking contracts in Maryland?

One more item from the IE filings stands out: the vendors collecting its money are all based out of state.  Are there no consultants based in Maryland who are capable of doing political work?  So far, the IE has spent $1,648,663 on TV, online ads, mail and consulting fees.  Compare that to the $2.9 million raised by Jealous’s campaign for the entire cycle.

RGA’s last IE report was dated July 11.  If the campaign continues, there will be more reports.  Who knows how much they will spend by the time they are done?

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RGA Runs Hogan as a Democrat

By Adam Pagnucco.

Below is the latest mailer by the Republican Governors Association (RGA) on behalf of Governor Larry Hogan.  It was sent to a Democratic household in MoCo.  Check out how it says that Hogan is “protecting what matters most” and promotes his record on “record funding for education,” “supporting the Paris climate accord,” “protecting Maryland’s environment” and “making Maryland’s schools world class.”

The RGA is running Hogan as if he was a Democrat.

This is the kind of mailer that will make Democratic officials and activists howl at the moon, but it’s savvy as hell.  Let’s see: Hogan is pro-environment and pro-education but he won’t raise taxes.  Simple, yeah, but effective.

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Hogan is Blowing Out Jealous in MoCo Fundraising

By Adam Pagnucco.

Montgomery County is sometimes referred to as “the ATM of Maryland.”  That’s because it’s the largest single source of tax revenue for the state and generates much of the state aid that is sent to other jurisdictions.  But in politics, MoCo is also the ATM of statewide Democratic politicians.  U.S. Senators, Governors, Attorneys General, Comptrollers and candidates for those offices are heavily dependent on the county for political money.  Sure, they raise money from Downtown Baltimore, Roland Park, Towson, Pikesville, Owings Mills and Annapolis too, but from a fundraising perspective, nothing compares to the mansions of Chevy Chase, Bethesda and Potomac.

Now there’s a new person claiming MoCo as his political ATM.  He’s not a Democrat.  He is Republican Governor Larry Hogan, and he is blowing out the Democratic nominee, Ben Jealous.

Hogan’s fundraising edge is well known.  But what has not been previously reported is how much money he is raising from Montgomery County.  The table below shows that he has raised $13.5 million over the cycle with $1.5 million coming from MoCo.  That’s about five times the $303,376 amount that MoCo donors have given to Jealous.

Hogan’s edge in business fundraising is huge; Jealous only received three contributions from MoCo business entities totaling $1,750.  But Hogan has a 5-to-1 edge in MoCo individual contributions too and it is not solely due to big checks.  Hogan’s average contribution from MoCo individuals is $239; for Jealous, that figure is $196.  Do the rough math and it’s obvious that waaaaaaaay more people in MoCo have given money to Hogan than Jealous.

How does this compare to previous races?  Below we compare fundraising by the Democratic and Republican gubernatorial tickets over the last four cycles.  Running mate accounts are included.  MoCo results are shown at top and grand totals are shown at bottom.  All data is through June 10, the cutoff for the most recent 2018 report, to make the data comparable across cycles.

Of the prior three cycles, 2006 is the most comparable to the present day since it had a GOP Governor and a Democratic challenger.  One difference was that Baltimore Mayor Martin O’Malley was running against MoCo Executive Doug Duncan, who had a natural advantage in MoCo fundraising.  Even so, O’Malley did not trail Governor Bob Ehrlich by much in MoCo and had a modest advantage in total fundraising.  In the next two cycles, the Democrats blew out the GOP nominees in both MoCo and in total raised.  Interestingly, Hogan’s MoCo fundraising this cycle is similar to the amounts raised from MoCo by O’Malley in 2010 and the Anthony Brown/Ken Ulman team in 2014.  Meanwhile, Jealous’s MoCo fundraising is in the same ballpark as what Ehrlich collected from the county in 2010.

That means the Hogan-Jealous gap, both in MoCo and overall, is extremely unusual by historical standards.  It’s not surprising that an incumbent Governor would lead in fundraising.  It IS surprising that he would blow out a challenger in the number one financial stronghold for the opposing party by five to one.  And Hogan is doing that with former Maryland Democratic Party Chair and long-time MoCo player Susan Turnbull on Jealous’s ticket.

Jealous became the Democratic nominee shortly after this reporting period closed.  With his primary rivals out of the way, he should begin raising more money from MoCo and other Democratic money sources soon.  But the financial gap he has against Hogan is probably too big to be closed.  And a big reason for that is Hogan’s support from MoCo donors.

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RGA Promotes Hogan, Blasts Jealous

By Adam Pagnucco.

The Republican Governors Association (RGA) is promoting Governor Larry Hogan and attacking Democratic nominee Ben Jealous in a new mailer.  The mailer praises Hogan on education spending but neglects to mention that he cut K-12 state aid in his first budget and was forced by the General Assembly to fully fund it in years going forward.  As for the mailer’s other side, it puts forth a message we are going to hear a lot about: the notion that a Ben Jealous administration will aggressively raise taxes.

The mailer below was received by multiple Democrats in Montgomery County.

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