Hogan notches historic re-election as governor
ANNAPOLIS — Tuesday night, Nov. 6, in Maryland was historic: Gov. Larry Hogan, the popular incumbent, won a decisive victor y against his Democratic challenger to become the state’s first two-term Republican governor in more than half a century.
The Associated Press called the race at 9:07 p.m. with Hogan leading Ben Jealous, the former NAACP president. By Wednesday morning, with nearly all of the state’s election day precincts reporting, Hogan was in the lead with 56.2 percent of votes, compared to Jealous, who had 42.7 percent of statewide votes.
The state board of elections released results around 10 p.m. election night, two hours after polls closed. Reports indicated that voters were in line late in Prince George’s County due to a lack of paper ballots in some polling stations. Results for the third-party candidates, Ian Schlakman of the Green Party and Libertarian Shawn Quinn of Lusby, were negligible at less than 1 percent each statewide.
Hogan won 77 percent of the vote in St. Mary’s compared to Jealous, who had about 22 percent. In Calvert, Hogan collected 76 percent of votes.
In Charles, Hogan and Jealous each received approximately 49.6 percent of the vote, with unofficial results showing Hogan in a slight lead in the county with just 20 more votes out of the more than 60,000 cast.
Not since the Eisenhower administration have Maryland voters re-elected a Republican governor — when Theodore McKeldin won a second term in 1954. Hogan did what Spiro Agnew never attempted and Robert Ehrlich failed to do. Agnew never made a re-election bid, instead he was elected vice president when Richard Nixon won the White House in 1968. Agnew eventually resigned after pleading no contest to charges of tax evasion. In 2006, incumbent governor Ehrlich lost decisively to Martin O’Malley despite a high approval rating.
Hogan stepped on stage at the Westin Hotel in Annapolis just after 10 p.m. before a boisterous crowd to declare victory.
“They said it was impossible. They said it couldn’t be done in Maryland but thanks to you we just went out and did it,” Hogan said. “Tonight in this deep blue state, in this blue year, with a blue wave, it turns out I can surf.”
The race never appeared close, with polls showing the governor leading Jealous by double digits from the Democratic primary in June until October when a Washington Post-University of Maryland poll had him winning by 20 points.
Jealous and his running mate, Susie Turnbull, conceded just before 11 p.m. Tuesday.
“We looked at the numbers,” Jealous said to his supporters gathered at the Hippodrome Theater in Baltimore. “Calling right now is the right thing to do.”
In his victory speech, Hogan thanked Jealous for running a “spirited” campaign and “giving Maryland a real choice.”
“While we disagree on the issues he has my respect and I sincerely wish him well in his future pursuits,” he said.
Hogan’s approval rating topped 70 percent in August — in a state in which voters from his party are
outnumbered by Democrats by a more than 2-to-1 margin.
The governor’s victory was helped by a cash-rich re-election campaign that spent millions on ads touting Hogan’s first-term achievements, including surpassing funding quotas for the state’s education system, fighting the opioid epidemic, enacting business-friendly policies, putting the brakes on tax increases handed down by Democrat Martin O’Malley’s administration and lowering tolls and fees.
Solomon Wiltshire, a 30-year-old Libertarian from Baltimore said, “I voted for Hogan because my business [printing] has done well since he has been governor. Ben Jealous stands for what I believe in. But, I gotta pay the bills.”
As for Jealous, he began the general race at a significant financial disadvantage. The former head of the NAACP spent nearly all of his campaign funds to win a crowded Democratic primary. In the early stages of the general election, polls showed Hogan with a double-digit advantage and campaign donations soon dried up, leaving Jealous unable to effectively introduce himself to voters.
Jealous eventually released ads touting his accomplishments both as president of the NAACP and as a businessman, as well as his plans to fund education and other parts of his agenda.
Hogan was further aided by several gaffes by Jealous, including inexplicably vetoing a reporter from being a panelist for the race’s lone debate. After receiving criticism, his campaign withdrew the veto.
Voter enthusiasm has appeared uncommonly high for a midterm election. More than 660,000 Marylanders voted early — double the total that turned out in the last Maryland gubernatorial election in 2014.
Some voters said they participated in response to Republican President Donald Trump whose policies — namely immigration — have been seen as divisive and polarizing.
Bridget Hilder said she doesn’t normally vote in midterms but her daughter voting for the first time encouraged her to do the same.
Hilder voted in Pasadena for Hogan, and said she likes how he doesn’t get involved in controversies. “He’s brought Maryland back to where it’s not in the bad news anymore,” she said.
Hogan has managed to shed most if not all association with Trump, despite Democrats’ efforts to link the two. The governor has made a point to contrast his brand of politics to those in Washington.
“Tonight the voters of Maryland put aside divisive partisan politics and the people in our great state voted for civility, for bipartisanship and for common-sense leadership,” Hogan said. “What unites us as Marylanders and as Americans is always greater that which divides us.”
“Tonight,” he continued, “Maryland sent a loud and clear message to Washington that they will hear all across America.”
Linking Hogan to Trump has not worked as well as some Democrats would have hoped, said Mileah Kromer, associate professor of political science and director of the Sarah T. Hughes Field Politics Center at Goucher College, not only because of his policy decisions, but also his temperament.
Much like in his first term, Hogan will have to work with a heavily Democratic Maryland General Assembly, which maintained its vetoproof majority.
Hogan has been applauded for his bipartisanship in his first term, so that voters like James Minor, a Hyattsville resident who said he’s worked for the Department of Homeland Security for 15 years, said Tuesday afternoon he voted for Hogan despite identifying as a Democrat.
“He doesn’t seem like he has a big ‘R’ on his forehead to me,” Minor said, adding that he appreciated Hogan’s goals of giving more money to school systems in Maryland, and said Hogan seemed to have the state’s best interests at heart.
Gov. Larry Hogan, right, and Lt. Gov. Boyd Rutherford, the first Republicans to be re-elected since 1954, held a celebratory press conference in the Governor’s Reception Room of the Maryland State House on Wednesday in Annapolis.