Gov. Lawrence J. Hogan Jr. (R) launched his second term on Wednesday with an inaugural address that paid tribute to three Republican elders — including his father — whose spirit of independence helped form his own political identity.
With the federal government locked in a record-long shutdown, the result of an impasse over President Trump’s demand for a wall on the southern border, Hogan offered Maryland as a place where political leaders govern without polarizing rancor.
Speaking on a platform on the east grounds of the Maryland State House, Hogan asked “my partners in the legislature” to continue seeking “that middle ground where we can all stand together.”
“Four years ago, I committed to usher in a new era of bipartisan cooperation and prosperity in Maryland, one filled with hope and optimism,” he said. “I believe it’s because we kept that promise to put problem-solving ahead of partisanship, and compromise ahead of conflict, that I’m standing here again today.”
The Democrats who dominate both houses of the state legislature reinforced their supermajorities they held during Hogan’s first term, due to gains in November’s elections that the governor has blamed on Trump’s unpopularity here.
But he expressed optimism about his chances for second-term success nonetheless.
“As I stand here today, I’m hopeful, and I have every confidence in our collective ability to continue giving Marylanders a state government that is just as decent, hardworking, and pragmatic as they are,” he said near the end of his 18-minute address.
While Hogan slammed national leaders for their unwillingness to compromise, he paid tribute to three men whose independence helped form his approach to public service — the late President George H. W. Bush (whose son Jeb introduced Hogan on Wednesday), the late U.S. Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), and Hogan’s father, former congressman Larry Hogan Sr., who died during the governor’s first term.
The governor noted that his father was a member of the House Judiciary Committee during the Watergate scandal.
“Despite tremendous political pressure, he put aside partisanship and answered the demands of his conscience to do what he thought was the right thing for the nation that he loved,” Hogan said, explaining why his father broke with his party to back the impeachment of President Nixon.
“No man, not even the President of the United States, is above the law,” Hogan quoted his father as saying, drawing applause. “For our system of justice and our system of government to survive, we must pledge our highest allegiance to the strength of the law and not to the common frailties of man.”
“The decision cost him dearly,” Hogan added. “He lost friends and supporters and his party’s nomination for governor that year. But it earned him something more valuable: a quiet conscience and an honored place in history.
“I learned a lot about integrity and public service from my dad.”
As polls continue to put Hogan atop the list of the nation’s most popular governors, some conservatives have started thinking about who the Republican Party will turn to after the likely implosion of the Trump presidency.
Without explicitly endorsing such encouragement, Hogan did declare, “I come from the get-to-work and get-things-done school of politics, and I’ll work with anyone who wants to do the people’s business.”
Hogan’s inaugural address was the first of two major speeches he will deliver this month.
The second, his State of the State address on Jan. 30, will delve more into the specific legislative priorities he intends to pursue this session.
Hogan will hold a news conference about his fiscal year 2020 budget proposal Thursday and will formally release the document a day later.
Due to a utility project on Lawyer’s Mall in Annapolis, the inaugural was held, for the first time ever, on a platform on the east side of the capitol.
More than 1,000 people attended the event, many sitting on wooden chairs on the State House grounds, others on metal bleachers erected on State Circle.
Underscoring his theme of bipartisanship, Hogan asked former Montgomery County Executive Isiah Leggett, former head of the Maryland Democratic Party, to offer welcoming remarks.
Jeb Bush, the former Florida governor and erstwhile presidential candidate, introduced Hogan with effusive praise.
“Larry is at the top of the list of leaders that I admire today,” he said. “Because what’s happening here in Annapolis is the antithesis of what’s happening in Washington, D.C. these days.”
In a possible swipe at the president and his defenders, Bush asked, “Do we strive to be transparent and truthful even when it’s inconvenient, or do we lie and deny facts? Do we push people down to make ourselves look better, or do we work to lift other people up?”
Why did Bush get up at dawn Wednesday to leave “paradise” — Miami — where it was already 65 degrees at 5 a.m.?
“I think Gov. Larry Hogan is the best example in public life today making efforts each and every day to lessen coarseness in our political culture, to make it stronger [and] more loving,” he said.
Click here to read the full text of Hogan’s address.