Opinion: A Democratic Case for Supporting Larry Hogan

Gaithersburg Mayor Jud Ashman

Why should my fellow Democrats consider voting to reelect Gov. Larry Hogan? Let’s start with the headline: Maryland’s on the right track. Jobs are up, taxes are down, our reputation as a place to do business is reinvigorated, funding for education is on the rise, the health of the Chesapeake is at its highest level in decades, and I can go on.

Of course, one person alone didn’t get us here; our Republican governor deserves credit, to be sure, and so do our Democratic legislators, whom I also proudly support. But it underscores the next observation about Larry Hogan: he’s a centrist who’s very comfortable and effective working across the aisle.

The fact is, for the last four years I’ve watched Gov. Hogan work with our all-Democratic Montgomery County delegation on matters large and small, including the Purple Line, banning fracking, and putting permanent, sustainable funding in place for Metro. These are big wins for everyone. It also bears noting that, working closely with County Executive Ike Leggett, Hogan came through for us in developing a truly robust incentive package to attract Amazon. (Our fingers are crossed on that one!)

To my fellow centrist Democrats, I’d say that if you’re like me – an ardent supporter of women’s rights, marriage equality, reasonable gun legislation, and so forth – Larry Hogan has proven, to varying degrees, to be either fully supportive of, or just not getting in the way of, progress on these matters. However, the man is laser-focused on making Maryland a better place to do business. And that’s a good thing. We all enjoy the great services and facilities in Maryland; in order to pay for them, we need the tax revenue that’s generated from a healthy economy and job growth.

To those who point to the poisonous politics of the Trump era and ask how one can even consider voting for a Republican at this time, I’m sympathetic to that line of reasoning. I’d argue, however, that there’s a big difference between the federal and state levels, and that Hogan’s leadership style and ability to work across the aisle is actually a repudiation of the tribalism that has infected our political culture. He exhibits civility. He works across the aisle with great success. And he has distanced himself from the president on many, many fronts.

Furthermore, here’s another way to think about it: if you’re disturbed, as I am, by the direction the Republican Party has taken in recent years, one very simple (if somewhat counterintuitive) antidote is to ELECT BETTER REPUBLICANS. A byproduct of casting your ballot for Larry Hogan is that he’s exactly the type of reasonable, centrist leader you’d want to help try to steer an off-the-rails GOP back on track. As The Washington Post points out in its endorsement of his re-election, “In polarized times, [Hogan] has stuck to the political middle, from where he has fashioned agreements that will benefit millions of Marylanders.”

There’s a refrain I’ve heard a lot over the last number of years; “why can’t our leaders get along and work together to do the right thing for their constituents instead of getting bogged-down by partisanship? Why can’t they be civil? I want leaders who set a good example for our kids.” My fellow Democrats, let’s not allow a party label to blind us to the plain truth; we already have what we’re looking for. We are on the right track. This is working.

Join me in reelecting Gov. Larry Hogan.

— Jud Ashman

The writer is the mayor of Gaithersburg. You can find him on Twitter at @judashman.

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