Ho­gan among promi­nent Repub­li­cans skip­ping GOP Con­ven­tion

Cecil Whig - - OPINION - By JES­SICA CAMPISI & JOSH MAGNESS

Cap­i­tal News Ser­vice

— While some promi­nent Repub­li­cans will reach for piero­gies or Pol­ish Boys in Cleve­land this week, Mary­land Gov. Larry Ho­gan will be reach­ing for Old Bay in­stead.

In­stead of at­tend­ing the Repub­li­can Na­tional Con­ven­tion, Ho­gan, who has pre­vi­ously said he doesn’t plan to vote for pre­sump­tive Repub­li­can pres­i­den­tial nom­i­nee Don­ald Trump, will at­tend the Tawes Crab Feast and Clam Bake with other Mary­lan­ders, Ho­gan spokes­woman Sha­reese Churchill wrote in an email.

“Gov­er­nor Ho­gan has re­peat­edly said he is fo­cused on Mary­land,” Churchill wrote.

The mod­er­ate gov­er­nor isn’t alone in skip­ping the con­ven­tion. He joins other notable party fig­ures, such as Florida Sen. Marco Ru­bio, Ohio Gov. John Ka­sich, 2012 GOP nom­i­nee Mitt Rom­ney and three mem­bers of the Bush fam­ily: for­mer Pres­i­dents Ge­orge W. Bush and Ge­orge H.W. Bush, as well as for­mer Florida Gov. Jeb Bush.

“Any­body has the right to go to the con­ven­tion or not go,” said Joe Clus­ter, ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor of the Mary­land Repub­li­can Party. “(Ho­gan’s) more fo­cused on the state of Mary­land and less on na­tional pol­i­tics.”

In Mary­land’s April 26 pri­mary, Trump proved to be the fa­vorite, earn­ing 54 per­cent of the vote, fol­lowed by Ka­sich, who got 23 per­cent, ac­cord­ing to the Mary­land Board of Elec­tions.

Louis Pope, na­tional com­mit­tee­man for the Mary­land Repub­li­can Party, said it is “to­tally (Ho­gan’s) per­sonal choice” as to whether he will at­tend the con­ven­tion in Cleve­land.

“He has got plenty to do with run­ning the state gov­ern­ment and I think he de­cided to stay out of the pres­i­den­tial pol­i­tics,” Pope said. “I don’t have an opin-

COL­LEGE PARK

ion on it.”

Dwight Pa­tel — the sec­ond vice-chair of the Mont­gomery County, Mary­land, Repub­li­can Cen­tral Com­mit­tee — echoed Pope’s sen­ti­ment.

Pa­tel added that Ho­gan’s ab­sence sig­nals his ded­i­ca­tion to fis­cal con­ser­vatism.

“He will not spend tax­payer dol­lars to go to the con­ven­tion,” Pa­tel said. “I don’t know if it would be state-funded or he would pay his way, but ei­ther way it shows good fis­cal re­spon­si­bil­ity.”

He did con­cede, how­ever, that the de­ci­sion could look bad if the Repub­li­can nom­i­nee hailed from Mary­land.

“It would be one thing if say, Bob Ehrlich ran for pres­i­dent and he was our party’s nom­i­nee and let’s say that Ho­gan doesn’t go,” Pa­tel said. “That would be dif­fer­ent be­cause he is a for­mer gov­er­nor from our state. But the gov­er­nor is tak­ing care of busi­ness at home.”

Ehrlich, a one-term gov­er­nor of Mary­land from 2003 to 2007, en­dorsed Don­ald Trump in a Face­book post on May 11.

“The GOP pres­i­den­tial field was the strong­est in re­cent mem­ory,” Ehrlich wrote. “Many of us had a fa­vorite can­di­date (Ohio Gov­er­nor John Ka­sich in my case) who fell short. This in­tra­mu­ral fight is now his­tory. Our can­di­date is Don­ald Trump. His op­po­nent is most likely Hil­lary Clin­ton…aka four more years of pro­gres­sivism on steroids. … The bot­tom line: re­gard­less of re­cently in­flicted hard feel­ings, it is time to get our act to­gether; time to stop pro­gres­sivism’s hold on our cul­ture and econ­omy; TIME TO WIN.”

Ehrlich will at­tend the con­ven­tion in Cleve­land, where he plans to speak several times to show his sup­port for Trump.

“It’s im­por­tant that a Repub­li­can pres­i­dent gets elected in Novem­ber,” Ehrlich said.

Ho­gan was more con­cerned about the elec­tion when his good friend, New Jer­sey Gov. Chris Christie, was still in the race, Clus­ter said. Since Christie ended his pres­i­den­tial bid on Feb. 9, the New Jer­sey gov­er­nor has en­dorsed Trump and will speak at the con­ven­tion.

For­mer Repub­li­can can­di­dates speak­ing out against Trump and stay­ing home dur­ing the con­ven­tion should be do­ing more to sup­port his cam­paign, Clus­ter said.

“As a Repub­li­can who signed the same pledge Trump did, it’s not good for them to be stay­ing out,” Clus­ter said. “If it were them (as the nom­i­nee), they would be com­plain­ing if Trump weren’t there.”

“As Repub­li­cans,” Clus­ter added, “we all have to stick to­gether and make sure Hil­lary Clin­ton does not be­come pres­i­dent.”

Todd Eberly, an as­so­ciate pro­fes­sor of po­lit­i­cal science and pub­lic pol­icy at St. Mary’s Col­lege, said there is no mod­ern prece­dent for this num­ber of high-rank­ing GOP of­fi­cials re­fus­ing to at­tend the con­ven­tion.

“Good luck find­ing an ex­am­ple of a for­mer pres­i­dent who is alive not com­ing out be­hind the new nom­i­nee,” Eberly said. “Ge­orge W. Bush was be­hind McCain, he was be­hind Rom­ney, but he is do­ing noth­ing and say­ing noth­ing about Trump.”

In Eberly’s opin­ion, Ho­gan’s re­fusal to en­dorse Trump or show any sign of sup­port for the con­tro­ver­sial busi­ness mogul is more than just mak­ing a moral stand.

It’s some­thing Ho­gan must do to have a chance at be­ing re-elected in 2018, Eberly said.

“If you are Ho­gan, who wants to run for re-elec­tion in two years, him not back­ing Trump makes no dif­fer­ence in the elec­toral col­lege,” he said. “Hil­lary could have been in­dicted, con­victed and ex­e­cuted and she would still win Mary­land over Trump.”

“Back­ing Trump,” he said, “is death for your re­elec­tion chances.”

CE­CIL WHIG FILE PHOTO

Gov. Larry Ho­gan is among several promi­nent Repub­li­cans who will not be at­tend­ing the Repub­li­can Na­tional Con­ven­tion this week in Cleve­land, and will in­stead con­tinue to tour Mary­land.

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