|Larry Hogan, with wife Yumi,
files for U.S. Senate race at the
Maryland Board of Elections office in
Former Maryland Larry Hogan (R) has finally come to his senses, and is running for the one office he might have a chance to win in 2024, the Maryland U.S. Senate seat of the retiring Ben Cardin (D). The question that will be answered in November: Did Hogan's decision come too late? Hogan announced his entry into the race Friday afternoon. Since leaving office in January 2023, the former governor has been exploring a potential run for U.S. President - - initially as a Republican, then as part of a bipartisan ticket under the No Labels platform.
Hogan is the strongest candidate for the U.S. Senate the Maryland GOP has been able to muster in decades. He might have even been the favorite in the race, had he segued directly from being a popular governor with bipartisan support to the Senate campaign. But Hogan's presidential ambitions have enraged both the Donald Trump-loving base of the GOP, and Democrats and independent voters who fear a No Labels ticket will end up sending Trump back to the White House in 2025.
Once praised by Democrats for his willingness to trash Trump on the national stage, Hogan has received more jeers than cheers on social media for his No Labels adventure and U.S. Senate announcement. And Trump supporters, who still remember Hogan verbally pummeling Republican gubernatorial nominee Dan Cox throughout the 2022 election season, were already lashing "Lockdown Larry" online within minutes of his announcement Friday.
The initial raw feelings will likely give way to a suddenly serious race for the U.S. Senate in Maryland. One big winner after Hogan's announcement: local broadcasters, who are going to enjoy an infusion of cash from the Republican National Committee, National Republican Senatorial Committee and GOP dark money groups. MAGA Republicans may not be enthused to vote for Hogan, but the multinational corporations behind various superPACs suddenly see a Senate seat that could be flipped from blue to red by an establishment Reagan Republican.
The biggest losers from Hogan's entry? Democratic candidate Angela Alsobrooks, as national and Maryland Democratic strategists grapple with the fact that only David Trone will be able to dominate the money race in a contest with Hogan. And Republican Robin Ficker, who was the frontrunner in the GOP primary race until yesterday afternoon. Ficker had the most money, and greatest name recognition, among the GOP candidates prior to Hogan's announcement.
Trone vs. Hogan would likely be a premier matchup this fall, with money and national surrogates pouring into the state. The advantage has to go to Trone at the moment. He not only has unlimited funds from his own pocket, but his friends include Barack Obama, Joe Biden and Democratic Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries. Trone has even hosted fundraisers with Obama and Bill Clinton -- in person -- at his home.
Another big problem for Hogan: abortion. The word you will hear the most from summer to fall in 2024: Abortion, abortion, abortion. It will be coming from your television speakers during every commercial break. The abortion issue could provide Democrats with a clean sweep of the White House, U.S. House of Representatives and U.S. Senate in November. It's been a winning issue for Democrats in blue and red states alike, since Roe v. Wade was overturned by the U.S. Supreme Court. It's an issue Hogan will have to skillfully navigate, as in that context, few Democrats will want to help tip the Senate back to the GOP by voting for Larry Hogan.
Still, even Trone hasn't been able to buy a seat in Congress every time he's run, losing his first primary contest to Jamie Raskin. Trone doesn't have much support among Republicans, except when compared to more-progressive candidates in his party. On balance, Hogan is remembered by independent and moderate voters in both major parties as a popular governor who ran the state well for eight years. He has much more name recognition statewide than Trone. But he doesn't have the razor-thin advantage he might have had, if he had gone directly into the race from Government House in 2023.
Photo courtesy Hogan for Maryland