Tags: Anthony Brown | Larry Hogan Jr. | Maryland | governor

Is GOP's Hogan Poised for Historic Upset in Maryland Governor's Race?

By Monday, 27 October 2014 09:07 PM Current | Bio | Archive

In what once seemed a "slam dunk" race for Democrats in a state where their voters outnumber registered Republicans by 53 percent to 26 percent, Maryland's Democratic Lt. Gov. Anthony Brown finds himself in a tighter-than-expected race for governor with Republican Larry Hogan Jr., a small-businessman and cabinet secretary to the last GOP governor (Bob Ehrlich, who served 2002-06).

An example of the sudden desperation of Democrats cited by Republicans has been radio spots in the final week of the campaign featuring first lady Michelle Obama and calling on voters to "make history" by electing Brown as their first African-American governor.

In addition, the Hogan campaign told Newsmax of reports that it was receiving mailings in Baltimore and Prince George's County (which have large black populations) that were "racial in tone."

"It is an old chapter from the Democrat playbook that, in my view, disrespects the African-American vote," former Republican national chairman and onetime Maryland Lt. Gov. Michael Steele, himself an African-American, told Newsmax.

"To think that black folks are more interested in mere sentimentality than putting in perspective the tax and spending policies or implementation of healthcare under Anthony Brown is insulting."

The latest developments in the race to succeed lame-duck Democratic Gov. Martin O'Malley come as a just-completed Baltimore Sun poll among likely voters statewide showed Brown leading Hogan by a margin of 49 percent to 42 percent.

Hogan's own Wilson Strategies poll showed him in a statistical tie with Brown, trailing 42 percent to 41 percent, and results from a Gonzales Research Poll (conducted for the Maryland GOP but independent of Hogan's campaign) showed Brown leading Hogan 46 percent to 44 percent.

Gonzales also showed independents breaking for Hogan 46 percent to 32 percent and drawing 89 percent from his own party while Brown was drawing only 73 percent from fellow Democrats.

"What you're seeing is a reaction to the O'Malley-Brown administration raising taxes by a record $10 billion over eight years and in the process driving 8,688 small businesses and 200,000 jobs from our state," Hogan told Newsmax over the weekend.

"So, voters in Maryland, whatever their party loyalty, are showing a willingness to listen to and try something different."

It doesn't take long for Hogan to tell any listener what he means by "something different": identifying billions in waste by state government and slashing it from the budget, providing immediate tax relief ("there's certainly enough taxes to lower after they raised so many the last eight years"); and reviving charter schools, "which give children an opportunity they wouldn't normally have and which the O'Malley-Brown administration has refused to take action on. So, we're 50th in the nation in charter schools."

By '"fiftieth," Hogan clearly meant "last in the nation," because only 42 states and the District of Columbia have charter schools rather than all 50. In January, the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools named Maryland last out of 43 in its own ranking of charter school laws. The state dropped from 42 to 43 in the National Alliance ranking.

With his shock of white hair, optimistic nature, and tireless pumping of an agenda spliced with the word "opportunity," Hogan has been likened to Jack Kemp, the late New York congressman and 1996 GOP vice presidential nominee who turned the Republican Party around to favor lowering tax rates, now a staple of its agenda.

"Jack's my man!" beamed the Republican hopeful, recalling the days when his own congressman-father (Larry Sr., who represented Maryland from 1968 to 1974) took him to the House gym to "pal around with" onetime pro football star Kemp.

"Another thing that Jack taught us is never to write off any voters," he said, "so I'm taking my message to Prince George's County and the east side of Baltimore, to black voters and blue-collar voters, and just letting them hear a fresh alternative to eight years of failed leadership. And you know something? They are responding."

Hogan also noted that even MSNBC's unabashedly Democratic host Chris Matthews, who once dubbed O'Malley "the hottest political property since Jack Kennedy," conceded on a recent session of his "Hardball" program with Ehrlich that "Brown is in trouble."

"So, all that's left for my opponent to do is attack," said Hogan. After a recent wave of early-morning TV ads suggesting that Hogan is part of a Republican "war on women," his team brought out the campaigner many say is their candidate's best surrogate: wife Yumi, an Asian-American and mother of their three daughters.

Also featured in Hogan's final ads is lieutenant governor running mate Boyd Rutherford, a former state secretary of general services and Assistant U.S. Secretary of Agriculture.

As to whether Rutherford was tapped for the ticket because he happens to be African-American, Hogan replied: "I picked Boyd because he's a thoughtful guy who knows how to administer government. I'll be the CEO and he'll be the chief operating officer. We'll straighten this state out. "

John Gizzi is chief political columnist and White House correspondent for Newsmax.

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In what once seemed a "slam dunk" race for Democrats in a state where their voters outnumber registered Republicans by 53 percent to 26 percent, Maryland's Democratic Lt. Gov. Anthony Brown finds himself in a tighter-than-expected race for governor with . . .
Anthony Brown, Larry Hogan Jr., Maryland, governor
Monday, 27 October 2014 09:07 PM
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