Opinion: In Search of Team Hogan

What is Team Hogan? There seems to be a Team Hogan for every district. Red signs with tight shots of candidates with the governor are visible everywhere. Meanwhile, Gov. Larry Hogan and his Teammates are attempting to distance themselves from everything Trump. Trump’s approval rating in Maryland is among the lowest of all the states so that’s not surprising. But they also seem to be trying to camouflage their party affiliation. The Kavanaugh confirmation by a Republican-controlled Senate is certainly not playing well in Maryland. “Republican” does not even appear on their Team Hogan signs nor on their campaign literature. Apparently, “Republican” is not part of the image they want to present.

The governor’s party is in tough shape. It’s no wonder Team Hogan is trying to distance themselves. President Trump’s national approval rating remains in the low 40’s. The most recent national polls show Republicans lagging Democrats, by as much as 12 points, if there is a temporary bump among Republicans from the Kavanaugh confirmation. 

Peta N. Richkus 

In legislative District 8, Team Hogan delegate candidate Joe Boteler refers to himself as “Independent” instead of “Republican” on his own signs. The same is true of Hogan’s Teammates in other districts throughout the state. Apparently, this is meant to convey a willingness to act in a bipartisan manner. But beneath the cozy photos and upbeat pronouncements is the reality of just how “Republican” Larry Hogan’s “Teammates” really are. Language- and policy-wise, they sound and act exactly like their GOP ‘mates elsewhere in the country. Hogan’s reported popularity is largely based on his friendly demeanor, his claim of bipartisanship, and the fact that he is “not Trump.”

Marylanders should not take this to mean he is not a dyed-in-the-wool Republican, through and through. In fact, Larry Hogan is a card-carrying member of today’s GOP and an admirer of many of its extremist representatives. From the very beginning, Hogan’s appointments and executive orders have made clear his blatant partisanship.

They and the Team Hogan affiliations have been all about party politics, with no hint of bipartisanship. You will have noticed on all of these “Teams” that there are no Democrats included? Hogan’s idea of bipartisanship is to claim credit for the results of a Democratically-controlled General Assembly and boast about the Democrats who have endorsed him. Another affiliation Larry Hogan has chosen not to display: his stamp-of-approval from ALEC (American Legislative Exchange Council), a corporate-backed “bill mill” with close ties to the Koch brothers. Can Larry Hogan really be bipartisan while he is applauded by ALEC for backing several pieces of legislation copied from the ALEC playbook meant to influence statehouses nationwide? The same ALEC with deep ties to the Koch brothers and their national right-wing network of funders? Like Hogan and other Team Hogan players, Republican Del. Chris West, part of Team Hogan 42, also has no “Republican” label on his signage or mailers. Odd, since he has been chairman of the Baltimore County Republic Party, executive director of the Maryland Republican Party, and president of the Calvert Institute of Policy Research, a conservative think tank associated with ALEC. All this information disappeared from his website after his primary victory. Another missing item: Chris West is a member of ALEC, at least as of their annual meeting in Denver in July 2017. West has voted with our Republican governor on 100 percent of his veto overrides. Any bipartisanship there? Like the governor, Chris West has decided to hide his strong ties to the Republican Party and right-wing organizations in his effort to appeal to Democrats and Independents. That’s his version of bipartisanship. So, what is Team Hogan? Partisan Republicans hiding in bipartisan clothing.

— Peta N. Richkus

Peta N. Richkus of Towson was secretary of the Maryland Department of General Services (1999-2003) and port commissioner of the Maryland Port Administration (2008-2014).

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