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Election 2024 Government & Politics

Unions, community groups push for no Hogan in the U.S. Senate

Del. Deni Taveras speaks at a press conference April 16, 2024, in support of a launch to campaign against former Republican Gov. Larry Hogan’s bid for U.S. Senate. Photo by William J. Ford.

Union and community leaders plan to launch a statewide campaign against former Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan’s bid for the U.S. Senate.

Conveyed at a press conference Tuesday in Annapolis, their main message: choosing the Republican Hogan is a vote not in line with Marylanders’ top concerns.

“[The legislative] session just ended last week and we’re celebrating some exciting victories,” said Ricarra Jones, political director for 1199 SEIU (Service Employees International Union). “But in the midst of our celebration, we recognize that the victories we are most proud of, that are moving our state forward in the right direction, would have been vetoed by former Gov. Larry Hogan.”

Ricarra Jones, political director for 1199 SEIiU, leads press conference April 16, 2024, to announce launch of a campaign against former Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan’s bid for a U.S. Senate seat. Photo by William J. Ford.

Because Hogan is the frontrunner to win the Republican nomination in the May 14 primary, these organizations are planning to knock on doors, make phone calls and use social media to dissuade voters from supporting Hogan.

In addition to 1199 SEIU and SEIU Local 500, the coalition includes Progressive Maryland, CASA in Action PAC, UFCW (United Food and Commercial Workers) Local 400 and UFCW Local 1994 MCGEO, which represents many public service employees in Montgomery County.

As to why they believe Marylanders should not vote for Hogan, they pointed to legislation on housing, health care and the economy that has been approved by the General Assembly and is expected to be signed into law by Gov. Wes Moore (D).

Fair housing advocates cheered the Tenant Safety Act, or House Bill 1117, sponsored by Del. Vaughn Stewart (D-Montgomery), which would allow tenants to take landlords to court if they fail to address unsafe or uninhabitable living conditions and to place rent payments in an escrow account while tenants’ complaints are adjudicated.

Tonia Chestnut, external affairs chair with the Enclave Tenant Association in Montgomery County, noted that, in 2022, Hogan vetoed Senate Bill 563, sponsored by Sen. Shelly Hettleman (D-Baltimore County). That bill would have required landlords to prove they were in compliance with local rental laws before trying to evict a tenant.

“Our fight for housing justice extends beyond the state level and we cannot afford to have someone such as Larry Hogan, who refuses to fight for tenants, to represent us in the Senate,” Chestnut said.

Delegates Emily Shetty (D-Montgomery) and Deni Taveras (D-Prince George’s) joined the press conference at Lawyers Mall.

Shetty recalled how, two years ago, Hogan vetoed legislation to expand abortion access.  But, this year, voters will be able to decide whether to amend the state constitution to protect access to abortion in Maryland.

Hogan’s “veto served as a stark example of the political hurdles that reproductive rights advocates have to overcome,” she said. “This decision contradicted the wishes of a significant portion of Maryland’s population.”

Taveras said the former governor vetoed more than a dozen “crucial bills” during the 2020 session, which was truncated because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Among bills he vetoed were measures that would have created a mental health and substance use disorder registry and referral system and would have funded the drug prescription and affordability board and a study on the effect of traffic noise.

“You don’t get a chance to get promoted up when you screw up,” said Taveras,whose district includes the zip code 20783, which recorded the most COVID-19 cases in the state.

“Larry ‘veto’ Hogan did damage as a governor and we cannot allow him to repeat that damage in the U.S. Senate,” Taveras said. “He already has a track record and that track record shows that he opposed reforms important to protect the health and safety of Marylanders.”

Who to choose

The Hogan campaign released an emailed statement Tuesday to Maryland Matters.

“This is a stark illustration of the politics-as-usual Marylanders are so fed up with: a ‘coalition’ spearheaded by one group rebuked for bullying and another for anti-Semitic views formed to launch the same old partisan and divisive attacks,” wrote campaign spokesman Michael Ricci. “Governor Hogan is running an inclusive campaign focused on bringing Marylanders together to fix our broken politics.”

In an email, Myles Handy, communications director for the Maryland Democratic Party, wrote that the party wasn’t involved in Tuesday’s event.

“We are aware, however, that there are a lot of organizations that know a Senator Larry Hogan would be detrimental for not only Maryland but the entire country at-large,” he said. “Our primary election will be held in about a month and we have two great candidates. I expect every organization that values healthcare, reproductive freedom and our democracy will support the Democratic nominee and work hard to defeat Larry Hogan in November.”

The top two Democrats in next month’s primary are U.S. Rep. David Trone (D-6th) and Prince George’s County Executive Angela Alsobrooks.

According to a poll released Tuesday by The Baltimore Sun, Fox45 and the University of Baltimore, Trone had 48% to 29% lead over Alsobrooks. The poll of 600 likely Democratic primary voters was taken April 7-10. The poll notes that either Democrat would lose to Hogan if the election was held now, according to a sample of nearly 1,300 likely general election voters.

One person at the news conference Tuesday who remains unsure which Democratic candidate to select is Julia Fernandez of Baltimore, a native of Honduras who became a U.S. citizen this year, who plans to register as a Democrat and will vote for the first time.

“I will have to look up and see who I will choose in the May primary,” Fernandez said after the press conference. “But it will not be Larry Hogan.”


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Unions, community groups push for no Hogan in the U.S. Senate