Can Hogan’s Act Play on the Road? ‘That’s a Great Question,’ He Says

Maryland Gov. Lawrence J. Hogan (R) told a national television audience that his brand of governing — one that has made him one of the most popular elected officials in the country — could work in Washington, D.C., if leaders were willing to put partisanship aside. “I am really completely disgusted with politics, as I think most people in America are,” Hogan said during an event in Montgomery County on Thursday. “Both parties are to blame. It’s this culture of divisiveness and the antagonism between the parties. … Quite frankly the reason that [Massachusetts Gov.] Charlie Baker (R) and I are in the stratosphere with job approvals, even though we’re in very Democratic states, is that we’re doing what most people want.” Polls routinely find that Baker and Hogan are the most popular governors in the nation, even though they are Republicans in overwhelmingly Democratic states. Gov. Lawrence J. Hogan Jr. (R) chats with David M. Rubenstein at an Economic Club of Washington, D.C., luncheon Thursday in Bethesda. Photo by Bruce DePuyt  Hogan made his remarks at the Economic Club of Washington, D.C.’s “Regional Executive Conversation,” a 45-minute interview with billionaire philanthropist David M. Rubenstein that was held, over lunch, at the Bethesda Marriott. Approximately 150 people, mostly from the business community, attended the event, which aired live on C-SPAN. When Rubenstein opened the conversation to questions from the audience, publishing entrepreneur Mark Bisnow asked if a President Hogan would be able to unite the country.  “Hypothetically speaking,” Bisnow asked, “if someone like you… were in the White House, how transferable do you think [your] bipartisanship style would be nationally, given the currently political climate and composition of Congress?” “Well, that’s a great question,” Hogan said. “Most people want [their leaders] to put aside the partisanship, they want to stop the name-calling. … [and] they want people to sit down and reach across the aisle and come up with real solutions.” “Isn’t that what you want?” Hogan asked the audience, which responded with applause. Hogan’s father, Larry Hogan Sr., served in Congress from 1969 to 1975. “His best friends were Democrats,” the governor said. “They would state their positions on the floor, they would argue eloquently. But then they would go out to dinner together. … And they worked out a lot of common-sense solutions. Now it’s — we hate each other.”   The wide-ranging conversation touched on many of the issues Hogan has faced as governor: — He described the state’s response to the riots in Baltimore, and how he told then-Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake (D) he was sending in National Guard troops whether she requested them or not. “The National Governors Association has this ‘baby governors’ school [for newly-elected executives] that you go to. They don’t teach you… what happens when your largest city is on fire. It just had to be instinctive. I had to just act.”  — Hogan declared that “I’ve probably spent about 70-80 percent of our time and our effort and our money” on issues related to Baltimore City. “We’re making some progress, but some of the things are just out of control.” (When he referred to Baltimore City as “the heart of our state, it’s the economic engine of our state,” former Montgomery County Executive Douglas M. Duncan, who was seated near reporters covering the event, was overheard muttering, “It’s not.”) — The governor described the long, difficult treatment regimen he faced after being diagnosed with non-Hodgkins lymphoma shortly after taking office. The treatment, while grueling, was successful, as he is now considered cancer-free, though he expressed good-natured regret over the hair loss that came as a side effect. “I used to have a beautiful head of gray hair, a very thick mane, I thought it was very distinguished, but it hasn’t quite come back. It’s not as distinguished, but I look tougher,” Hogan said of his 50’s-era buzzcut, as the audience laughed. “I can tell you this was our most successful legislative session ever. I think it was the hair. I was intimidating to the legislature.”  —  He said “there’s a really good chance” that Amazon will decide to build its second national headquarters in Maryland. “We’re on the short list. We had a great presentation with them. [Montgomery County Executive] Ike Leggett and I are a team.” Because the event was advertised as an economic discussion — Hogan boasted that “Maryland: Open for Business” signs were erected within days of his inauguration — the Maryland Democratic Party used the occasion to highlight recent statistics on jobs and wage growth that suggested the Maryland economy isn’t doing as well as Hogan says. “While Hogan cherry-picks data on jobs, the vast majority of Marylanders are no better off than they were four years ago,” said Maryland Democratic Chairwoman Kathleen Matthews. She went on to say that the Democratic nominee for governor, former NAACP President Benjamin T. Jealous, “has bold ideas to boost wages, reduce family debt and move Maryland towards economic prosperity.” [email protected]

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