Ho­gan aims to ‘play goalie’ Vows to block bad bills if elected Maryland gov­er­nor

The Washington Times Weekly - - Politics - BY S.A. MILLER

Repub­li­can Larry Ho­gan, who is in a sur­pris­ingly close race for gov­er­nor in deep-blue Maryland, said Thurs­day that if elected he would be play­ing “goalie” to stop the Demo­crat-led Gen­eral Assem­bly from pass­ing more bad leg­is­la­tion.

Although he would be un­able to re­peal lib­eral mea­sures al­ready on the books, he said, his agenda would fo­cus almost ex­clu­sively on low­er­ing taxes and im­prov­ing the state econ­omy.

In a wide-rang­ing in­ter­view with ed­i­tors and re­porters at The Wash­ing­ton Times, Mr. Ho­gan out­lined his op­po­si­tion to a litany of mea­sures en­acted dur­ing the eight years his Demo­cratic op­po­nent, Lt. Gov. An­thony Brown, served along­side Gov. Martin O’Mal­ley.

Those mea­sures in­cluded one of the strictest gun con­trol laws in the coun­try, the le­gal­iza­tion of med­i­cal mar­i­juana, driver’s li­censes for il­le­gal im­mi­grants and the au­tho­riza­tion of speed limit cam­eras. Mr. Ho­gan said he wouldn’t even try to push re­peal bills through the leg­is­la­ture, which has a veto-proof Demo­cratic majority in both cham­bers.

“Right now it’s an open net. It’s just ev­ery sin­gle crazy thing that they want to get in just gets done,” said Mr. Ho­gan. “One ma­jor thing we can do is play goalie. … There’s not go­ing to be a huge of­fen­sive game. We’re go­ing to be able to score here and there and we’re go­ing to stop bad things from hap­pen­ing and con­tin­u­ing to drive our state into the ground.”

He said that try­ing to take on Med­i­caid or pow­er­ful la­bor unions, as Repub­li­can gover­nors have done in other states, would be a “fool’s er­rand.”

“We’re go­ing to try to win the bat­tles we can win. That’s tough enough as it is,” said Mr. Ho­gan. “It’s baby steps in Maryland.”

The bat­tles he put in the winnable col­umn in­cluded cut­ting gov­ern­ment spend­ing, rolling back some of the 40 tax in­creases en­acted dur­ing Mr. Brown’s ten­ure, eas­ing reg­u­la­tory bur­dens and cre­at­ing a more business-friendly cli­mate that would stop em­ploy­ers from flee­ing the state.

Us­ing Maryland gover­nors’ pow­er­ful bud­get au­thor­ity, Mr. Ho­gan said, he would im­ple­ment a 5 per­cent spend­ing cut in his first bud­get and pro­vide tax re­lief with the $2 bil­lion in sav­ings.

Mr. Ho­gan said he would not make the same mis­takes as Robert L. Ehrlich Jr., who was elected in 2002 as the state’s first Repub­li­can gov­er­nor in 36 years and en­coun­tered stub­born re­sis­tance from the leg­is­la­ture at ev­ery turn.

“He’s a com­pet­i­tive guy … who was a foot­ball player, a line­backer who liked to hit peo­ple. So the two of them were just pound­ing [each other] and a lot of things didn’t get done,” said Mr. Ho­gan, who served in Mr. Ehrlich’s Cab­i­net.

“He’s a great guy and a good friend. I’m not try­ing to be crit­i­cal,” he said. “It wasn’t re­ally all his fault. It was mostly the Democrats’ fault.”

Mr. Ho­gan said his 30 years of ex­pe­ri­ence as a com­mer­cial real es­tate bro­ker gave him the deal-mak­ing skills to work ef­fec­tively with the leg­is­la­ture. “I’m a ne­go­tia­tor,” he said.

Mr. Ho­gan’s agenda on taxes and the econ­omy is the cor­ner­stone of his cam­paign. He re­minds vot­ers that un­der the cur­rent ad­min­is­tra­tion, Maryland lost over 31,000 jobs, more than 6,500 small business ei­ther closed or left the state and the un­em­ploy­ment rate dou­bled. He prom­ises to re­verse th­ese trends.

“Old Bay is po­ten­tially go­ing to be made in Penn­syl­va­nia now,” Mr. Ho­gan said of the sig­na­ture sea­son­ing of McCormick & Co., which has been in Maryland since 1889 but is pre­par­ing to move.

“It’s tragic. That’s the thing we’ve got to stop. Maryland is go­ing down the tubes,” Mr. Ho­gan said.

He said McCormick’s board of direc­tors told him the spice company might stay if he wins the elec­tion.

Mr. Ho­gan faces an up­hill race to get to the gov­er­nor’s man­sion, though he is clos­ing in on Mr. Brown.

Mr. Brown led Mr. Ho­gan 49 per­cent to 42 per­cent last week in a Bal­ti­more Sun poll. His 7-point ad­van­tage is much smaller than gen­er­ally ex­pected in a state where regis­tered Democrats out­num­ber Repub­li­cans by a 2-1 mar­gin.

Mr. Ho­gan said his cam­paign’s in­ter­nal polls have put him as close as 3 points be­hind Mr. Brown, within the mar­gin of er­ror. Mr. Ho­gan did not show the poll to The Times.

He said his mes­sage of low­er­ing taxes and strength­en­ing the econ­omy res­onates with vot­ers from both ma­jor par­ties in Maryland and has helped him make in­roads into Demo­cratic strongholds, in­clud­ing blue-col­lar neigh­bor­hoods in east­ern Bal­ti­more County.

“Even lib­eral Democrats are like, ‘Enough is enough. We just can’t take it any­more,’” he said. “Peo­ple are say­ing, ‘I’ve never voted for a Repub­li­can in my life. But we’ve got to do some­thing about th­ese taxes.’”

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