Anne Arundel GOP Feud Drags Hogan's Real Estate Firm Into the Conversation

Republicans in the House of Delegates, aided by Anne Arundel County Executive Steve Schuh (R), are continuing their campaign assault on a fellow Republican, Anne Arundel Councilman Jerry Walker – who hopes to join them in the House next year. This time, they have, indirectly, dragged Gov. Lawrence J. Hogan Jr.’s real estate company into the controversy. Republican households in District 33, centered in Crofton, received a mailer in recent weeks blasting Walker over a controversial local real estate development called The Enclave, which would bring condominiums and townhouses to a seven-acre tract of land between Crofton Parkway and Route 3. “Local residents are furious about overdevelopment…So why is Jerry Walker smiling?” the mailer says, next to a picture of a smiling Walker. “Because official campaign records show, Jerry Walker took $50,000 from these same developers.”   What the mailer does not say is that the Hogan Cos. – the real estate company founded by the governor and now run by his younger brother, Timothy Hogan – is the broker and a consultant on the project. In addition, some principals of the Hogan Cos. have invested in one of the companies developing the site, Diamondback Investment Co. The campaign literature was paid for by the House 2018 Victory Slate, which ostensibly is a fundraising entity designed to help Republicans win House seats in Annapolis. But for at least the second time in the past half-year, the fund is being used to attack a fellow Republican – Walker. Last fall, the slate paid for a mailer comparing Walker to a clown and accusing him of being aligned with Democrats and liberals.  The anti-Walker campaign is being orchestrated by an alliance of Republican powerbrokers in Anne Arundel County. But the reference to the development project in the attack mailers adds a bizarre twist – considering some of the people behind the flier are close allies of the governor. Schuh, the Anne Arundel County executive, has long been at odds with Walker. Campaign finance records show that Schuh was the lone donor to the House 2018 Victory Slate between January 2017 and January of this year, chipping in $26,000. Schuh is close to House Minority Leader Nic Kipke (R-Anne Arundel), who controls the campaign fund. The chairman of the Victory Slate is Dirk Haire, who is Hogan’s hand-picked chairman of the Maryland Republican Party and one of the governor’s closest campaign advisers. Haire’s wife, attorney Jessica Haire, is seeking the Republican nomination to replace Walker, who is term-limited, on the County Council. Walker told Maryland Matters this week that he was not surprised by the attack mailer. “What’s shocking to me is it targets the company the governor founded” and was authorized by “the people that are supposed to have the governor’s back.” Walker also said he was puzzled why his critics are linking him to a development that was authorized by 30-year-old zoning decisions. “I’ve had nothing to do with that project other than express some concerns about the traffic,” he said. Dirk Haire, who is also an attorney, sent a text to Maryland Matters Thursday saying he was on a trial in Oregon for the next two weeks and unavailable for comment. Kipke did not respond to a message left at his House office this week. According to campaign finance records, Walker has taken $950 in contributions from Diamondback Investment and $75 from Timothy Hogan. Schuh has received $650 from Diamondback Investment and $1,250 from the governor’s brother. The younger Hogan has contributed $75 to Kipke. Jacob Ermer, a vice president of the Hogan Cos., declined to comment about the political controversy. Now term-limited, Walker has announced his intention to run for a seat in the House of Delegates in District 33, which covers Crofton, Davidsonville, Gambrills, Odenton, Millersville, Severna Park and Arnold, among other communities. That puts him on a collision course with the district’s three Republican incumbent delegates, Michael Malone, Tony McConkey and Sid Saab. Walker’s recent political career has been marked by frequent clashes with Schuh. “We just haven’t seen eye-to-eye on a number of things,” Walker conceded. But he added: “Ideologically, we are very much aligned.” Asked by Maryland Matters earlier this month to explain why he and Walker are so often at odds, Schuh replied, “I don’t really know…I think he made a strategic decision to be oppositional.” Some Republicans believe their friction dates back to 2009, when Walker supported then-County Councilman Edward R. Reilly to fill a state Senate vacancy in District 33. Reilly prevailed in a vote of the county GOP central committee over then-Del. James T. King – who co-owned a restaurant business with Schuh. Additionally, when scandal-plagued former County Executive John R. Leopold (R) resigned in 2013 and the County Council named his replacement, Walker supported Laura Neuman, who was selected over Schuh and several other contenders. Schuh went on to defeat Neuman in the 2014 Republican primary en route to winning the job. Schuh and Walker have clashed over other political appointments in the county as well, and Walker is the Republican on the seven-member County Council who is most likely to forge alliances with the council’s three Democrats. Walker is well-armed for battle in the upcoming seven-candidate GOP House primary. As of mid-January he had just shy of $200,000 in the bank. By contrast, Saab had $69,000 on hand; Malone, who was appointed to the House, had $51,000; and McConkey had $20,000, along with a $144,000 campaign debt. [email protected] 

Josh Kurtz
Co-founder and Editor Josh Kurtz is the leading chronicler of Maryland politics and government. He began covering the State House in 1995 for The Gazette newspapers, and has been writing about state and local politics ever since. He later became an editor at Roll Call, the Capitol Hill newspaper, and spent eight years at E&E News, an online subscription-only publisher of news websites covering energy and environmental issues. For seven of those years, he led a staff of 20 reporters at E&E Daily, which covers energy and environmental policy on Capitol Hill and in national politics. For 6 1/2 years he wrote a weekly column on state politics for Center Maryland and has written for several other Maryland publications as well. Kurtz has given speeches and appeared on TV and radio shows about Maryland politics through the years.

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