GOP Chairman Reflects on 2018 Wins, Losses

    While he would have preferred to win a few more down-ballot races, Maryland Republican Chairman Dirk Haire said Thursday it was still very significant that the state reelected a Republican governor for only the second time in history.

    With the second-highest approval rating of any governor in the U.S., Gov. Lawrence J. Hogan Jr. easily secured victory and racked up the necessary crossover votes from Democrats to earn reelection.

    But down-ballot Republicans faced a tougher electorate, particularly in suburban areas, Haire said in a memo with initial observations on the election outcome.

    Haire said based on his review of initial data, it seems that most Republicans voted a straight ballot, as did many Democrats. But as many as one in five Democrats seem to have voted for Hogan and then for Democrats down the rest of their ballots, Haire wrote.

    President Trump no doubt had an influence on the outcomes.

    In Western Maryland and on the Eastern Shore, the party got a bump from Trump with Republicans and independents, which helped in a couple of highly competitive General Assembly races.

    But in suburban counties, independents appear to have voted in large numbers against every Republican on the ballot except for Hogan as a statement against Trump, Haire wrote.

    “This dynamic proved problematic and appears to have cost us a couple of incumbent County Executives (Anne Arundel and Howard) and prevented us from making several legislative and county council gains that we thought were achievable,” he wrote.

    Haire also reflected on the party’s losses in 2018. The “Drive for Five,” an effort to break the Democratic supermajority in the Maryland Senate, fell short. With a handful of close races still up in the air, it appears the Republican Party will gain one seat in the Senate chamber, for a total of 15, and lose six or seven seats in the House of Delegates, for a total of 43 or 44.

    While Hogan will be term-limited from running again in 2022, Haire said his presence in the governor’s mansion will help the party organize, fundraise, and recruit candidates in the next four years.

    “We did this in what was a very challenging environment for Republican candidates in suburban swing districts nationwide. I am very excited about the opportunity to continue this progress in the 2022 cycle,” Haire wrote.

    He said the party fully anticipates an additional influx of support “after the next four years of higher property taxes and local income taxes in our major counties like Anne Arundel, Baltimore, Howard, and Frederick.”

    Voter turnout was higher throughout the state in this election. The Baltimore Sun reported Thursday that a record number of Marylanders, more than 2.1 million, had voted this year — and that’s before all absentee and provisional ballots were counted. Hogan received more votes than any governor in state history, more than 1.2 million.

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    Danielle E. Gaines
    Danielle Gaines most recently worked for Bethesda Beat covering Montgomery County. Previously, she spent six years at The Frederick News-Post as the paper’s principal government and politics reporter for half that time, covering courts and legal affairs before that. She also reported for the now-defunct The Gazette of Politics and Business in Maryland and previously worked as a county government and education reporter at the Merced Sun-Star in California’s Central Valley.