By Kevin Lair
Senior Elm Writer
On Sept. 22, the Washington College Republicans and Department of Political Science hosted a talk by Republican Gubernatorial Candidate for Maryland Larry Hogan Jr. The turnout from self-proclaimed Republicans, Democrats, and Independents of all ages was encouraging, and presented a microcosm of how politics should be: voters seeking to learn more about candidates and their positions, regardless of their political preferences.
Students, faculty, and community members filled Hynson Lounge and asked direct questions ranging from rain taxes and negative ads to crime and healthcare policies. The audience took a keen interest in Hogan, who is running against the current Democratic Lt. Governor of Maryland, Anthony Brown. Lt. Gov. Brown has served alongside Governor Martin O’Malley since 2007 and was in charge of the state’s healthcare exchange program, among other initiatives.
Senior Madison Getty deserves a lot of credit for her role in organizing Hogan’s visit. A member of the College Republicans, Getty interned with Hogan’s campaign this summer. Regarding her internship, she said, “While attending political events and watching him interact personally with Maryland voters, I got to know and respect Mr. Hogan as a leader… It is my belief that Larry Hogan offers the best solution to help fix Maryland.”
Throughout the campus-wide lecture and preceding one-on-one discussion group he held with students, Hogan asserted his love for the state, his fear for the fiscal path it is on, and his plans to get Maryland back to work if elected in November. Hogan declared that his first job would be to “get the government off our backs and out of our pockets” in order to grow the private sector, create jobs, and improve Maryland’s economy.
Hogan is unique in that he has never been elected to political office and has spent his life as a successful business owner. According to his official website, Hogan is the “Founder, President, and CEO of The Hogan Companies, a leader in economic development for over 25 years, and has brought hundreds of businesses and thousands of jobs to Maryland.” He previously served under Maryland Republican Gov. Bob Ehrlich’s administration as state cabinet secretary from 2003 to 2007. In 2011, he founded Change Maryland, a grassroots watchdog group that seeks to hold elected officials accountable.
The Hogan campaign argues that electing Brown would guarantee four more years of “failed O’Malley-Brown, tax-and-spend, politics-as-usual.” Hogan cited statistics that Maryland has lost 8,000 small businesses, 100,000 jobs, and seen its unemployment rate nearly double under the O’Malley-Brown administration. The campaign also contends that O’Malley and Brown have increased spending by $10 billion and enacted 40 consecutive tax hikes that have contributed to the state’s zero economic growth and an economy that ranks near the bottom of the nation.
Recent polling data on the race is somewhat scattered. Internal polling from the Maryland Republican Party released on Aug. 22 showed Brown with 45 percent of the vote and Hogan with 42 percent ; the difference of three percentage points is within the poll’s margin of error, illustrating a statistical tie. This poll was seen as a dramatic turnaround, as many believed Brown had a lock on the election. Meanwhile, a Battleground Tracker Poll released in mid-September by CBS News, the New York Times, and YouGov showed Brown with 46 percent and Hogan, 34 percent.
A recent article by Len Lazarick of the Maryland Reporter titled “Analysis: GOP Poll could be more valid than the CBS Times poll” suggests that the latter poll may be somewhat skewed, citing issues with predicted turnout and weighing of the results. Further independent polling is needed to get a clearer picture of the race, which both campaigns acknowledge has gotten much tighter since the summer primaries.
Governor of New Jersey and chairman of the Republican Governors Association Chris Christie recently attended a Hogan fundraiser in Bethesda, Md. On state Democrat’s two-to-one advantage in voter registration, Christie said, “I am here because there are dozens of pundits and supposedly smart people in this state who are going to tell you over the next 48 days that Larry can’t win… I am here to tell you that if that were true, then we wouldn’t have a two-term Republican governor in New Jersey either.”
The College Democrats and Political Science Department have been reaching out to the Brown campaign to organize a visit. If such a visit is arranged, I encourage all Republicans, Democrats, and Independents to spare some time to listen to the candidate. This election will impact all Marylanders, and every candidate and voter should have their voices heard.