Maryland Gov. Lawrence J. Hogan Jr. (R) will speak at a “Politics and Eggs” event in New Hampshire Tuesday morning as pundits wonder whether he will mount a Republican primary challenge to President Trump in the 2020 presidential election.
About 40 journalists have signed up to cover the event.
“The fact that Hogan is coming into New Hampshire is surely something of great interest to people who follow politics,” said Neil Levesque, executive director of the New Hampshire Institute of Politics at Saint Anselm College, which hosts the speaker series.
Held in the state with the first presidential primary, “Politics and Eggs” is considered a must-stop event for presidential hopefuls. The series serves as a “forum for local business leaders to hear from presidential candidates in an intimate setting,” according to its website.
Several candidates have already spoken at the series this year, including these Democrats: South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Pete Buttigieg; former Housing and Urban Development Secretary Julián Castro; former Maryland Rep. John K. Delaney, and California Sen. Kamala Harris. In addition, Democratic Rep. Eric Swalwell of California spoke before he declared his candidacy, while former Massachusetts Gov. William Weld announced the creation of an exploratory committee for a possible Republican bid during his appearance.
“‘Politics and Eggs’ is a storied event,” Levesque said. “It’s the perfect place for [Hogan] to come and talk to some New Hampshire people and potentially explore running.”
But survey numbers in New Hampshire continue to be discouraging for Hogan. A poll released Monday by the University of New Hampshire Survey Center of likely GOP primary voters in the Granite State showed Trump the choice of 76 percent, former Ohio Gov. John Kasich, who continues to ponder a bid, at 10 percent, Weld at 5 percent, and Hogan at 1 percent.
The poll of 208 likely Republican voters, taken April 10-18, had a 6.8-point margin of error.
Still, GOP-leaning New Hampshire voters are not completely sold on Trump. While more than 80 percent of self-identified Republicans told the pollsters they approved of Trump’s job performance, only 63 percent of likely Republican primary voters said they plan to vote for him.
New Hampshire voters can select either the Democratic or Republican ballot during the presidential primary.
Hogan has long been a vocal critic of the Trump administration, but he has publicly underscored the difficulty of a primary challenge to Trump.
“I’m concerned about the Republican Party, I’m concerned about the country…and the broken politics of today. (But) I also don’t want to go on some fool’s errand,” Hogan told CNBC in March. “I don’t want to just run around the country and put my family and everybody through that kind of an effort for no reason.”
Hogan enjoys a 69 percent approval rating at home, according to the latest Goucher Poll, in a state where more than half of adults identify as Democrats.
Now, experts are wondering whether Hogan will use his history of promoting bipartisanship to present himself as a sensible and unifying alternative to the divisiveness that has plagued Trump’s first term.
“Governors like (Hogan) do represent a segment of the Republican electorate that is unhappy with President Trump,” said Dante Scala, a professor of political science at the University of New Hampshire. “So he could be speaking not just for himself, but for a segment of Republican voters.”
Even so, Hogan would face a steep uphill climb to the nomination.
“I think Trump will be the nominee very easily,” said Andrew Smith, a professor of political science at the University of New Hampshire and director of the UNH Survey Center. “He likely won’t face any significant challenge.”
Whether or not Hogan enters the race, experts speculate that he might be using Tuesday’s event to better position himself for a run in the next presidential election cycle in 2024.
“‘Politics and Eggs’ is a good place to go,” said Smith. “It is attended by high-level Republican and Democratic operatives as well as business people in the state. If they think [Hogan] does well, or has a good message, they can boost him.”
Above all, the event might just be a convenient way for the governor to raise his national profile.
“It’s a cheap flight from [Maryland] to Manchester,” Scala said.
This article was written by Carolina Velloso. Josh Kurtz and Bruce DePuyt of Maryland Matters contributed.
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