Former popular two-term Maryland Governor Larry Hogan officially launched a surprise Republican Senate bid Friday, rapidly altering dynamics around the open seat soon to be vacated by retiring Democrat Ben Cardin after 36 years occupying it.
It’s a major blow to Democratic Party leaders — especially Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., who was already facing an uphill battle to retain control of the U.S. Senate in the 2024 election.
Multiple Democrats are competing in their party primary, confident the blue state would stay true to nearly half a century electing only Democratic senators.
But moderate Republican Hogan brings formidable crossover appeal that could reshape the race to fill a rare state opening that holds national implications.
In his announcement video, Hogan referenced his father’s brave public stance against former President Richard Nixon during the Watergate scandal as inspiration to challenge partisan politics, saying:
“Like the exhausted majority of Marylanders, I’m completely fed up with politics as usual. We can do so much better.”
During eight years as governor, Hogan earned broad support beyond his party for tax cuts, intervention into crime-infested Democrat-run Baltimore, deficit reduction, and overall leadership.
But he also frequently criticized some polarizing rhetoric from Donald Trump, likely complicating a vital GOP coalition with the ex-president prominently campaigning in the election year.
National Republicans have intensely recruited Hogan before, eager to use his popularity and appeal in an attempt to flip the deep blue Maryland.
Republican Senate campaign chair Senator Steve Daines quickly hailed Hogan’s eleventh-hour entry as a victory:
“Governor Hogan is a great leader for Maryland, and that’s why he remains overwhelmingly popular in the state. We look forward to welcoming him to the United States Senate.”
Democrats are worried Hogan is jeopardizing their slim Senate control under Schumer.
The Democratic nominee will likely emphasize Biden’s 2020 landslide 33-point Maryland margin of victory to discourage a close contest.
Hogan summarized his underestimated candidacy in his announcement:
“I made the decision to run for Senate not to serve one party, but to try to be part of the solution: to fix our nation’s broken politics and fight for Maryland.”
The Horn editorial team