Is Larry Hogan a Nice Guy…. That’s Not the Issue

By Don Mohler

And they’re off.

With Angela Alsobrooks’ surprisingly easy victory in Maryland’s Democratic primary for the United States Senate, all eyes of the nation are now on the Free State. Once Senator Mitch McConnell convinced former Governor Larry Hogan to put down his cable news microphone and get back in the game, our state became ground zero for control of the Senate.

Here’s what we know: Voters like Larry Hogan. Here’s what’s more important: That is not, and cannot be, the issue in this campaign. The stakes are just too high.

Democrats cannot fall into a trap of debating the former Governor’s record. Do many believe that his record is flawed? Yes, they do. There are plenty of examples to make that case. It is easy to point out that as Governor he vetoed legislation to increase the minimum wage to $15 an hour, as well as a bill that would have provided workers with guaranteed sick leave.  Democrats could remind voters that he vetoed Maryland’s Blueprint for Maryland’s Future, the most important piece of legislation supporting public education in the history of the state. Thanks to the General Assembly, the Blueprint provides expanded pre-kindergarten education and community schools, increases teacher pay, and creates an accountability board to make sure that the program actually works. Yes, Larry Hogan vetoed that bill.

Democrats can remind people that the former Governor decimated state government, refusing to fill hundreds of positions, greatly impacting the ability of state agencies to respond to needs in communities all over the state. They can express outrage over the fact that the Republican candidate for Senate fought every single piece of gun safety legislation that reached his desk while Governor. Every single one!

They can do all of that, but they will make a mistake if they focus too much on the former Governor’s record. Why is that?

Because, despite his questionable record, people in the state tend to like the former Governor. He left office with strong approval ratings from Republicans, Independents, and even Democrats. How did that happen? Remember that the bar was pretty low. The Governor was compared to, and disgusted by, a former President who bragged about grabbing women in a tawdry manner and denied that a national pandemic was a “thing.” When compared to a man who suggested that we ingest bleach as a cure for COVID, Maryland’s Republican Governor didn’t look so bad.

The former Governor and I had a cordial relationship. We worked together to ensure that McCormick & Company remained in Baltimore County, and sadly, we grieved together at funerals for our first responders. I have good friends who have worked for, and continue to work for, Larry Hogan. They speak highly of him.

But once again, that is not the issue.

There are two main issues in the November election, and they are really, really important. Issue number one is which party is going to control the Senate come January 2025. Issue number two is protecting a woman’s right to choose. These two issues are directly related.

Control of the Senate will be critical regardless of who wins the Presidential race in November. Should Trump win (and as shocking as it may be, we can’t rule that out), the United States Senate may be our last stand in the fight to protect freedoms that we hold so dear. The former Governor has made it clear that he will caucus with the Republican Party. There is nothing in his history to indicate that he has any intention of bucking Mitch and the MAGA crowd in D.C. Nothing!

Make no mistake about it, should Republicans take control of the Senate, there will be a national abortion ban, and Larry Hogan will vote for that ban. Voters must not fall for his latest attempt to gaslight the intelligent people of Maryland. You don’t have to be a genius to know what is happening. It goes something like this: Close aides to the former Governor walked into his office and said, “Governor, we have the polling data from across the state. Here’s the bottom line:  you can’t win if you support a national abortion ban. You need to say that you are pro-choice right now, and then once the election is over you can back away from that statement and support the party in its effort implement a national ban. By that time, it won’t matter.” This is not historical fiction.

Fortunately, for the voters of Maryland, and unfortunately for him, the Governor has a record. Just this past March, he refused to commit to protecting IVF treatments for women, and when asked whether or not he would vote to codify Roe V. Wade, he giggled and said, “That wasn’t a yes or no.”  Yes, he giggled about protecting a woman’s right to choose. This is not a man who believes that a woman and her doctor should make her health care decisions. He has made that clear over and over and over again.

As a recent article pointed out, “On the issue of reproductive justice and access to abortion care, Hogan vetoed a law to increase the number of trained providers and the availability of services, including in the two-thirds of Maryland counties without a single provider. Hogan issued his veto just as the Supreme Court was preparing to overturn Roe v. Wade and Maryland was facing the imminent need to provide care to patients from neighboring states like West Virginia. After the Maryland General Assembly overrode his veto, Hogan denied a request from the state comptroller to immediately release $3.5 million in appropriated funds for training new providers in quality and safe care.”

Facts are pesky little things.

Compare that record with the clarity that the Democratic Nominee for Senate, Angela Alsobrooks, brings to this issue: “On her first day in office, Angela will co-sponsor the Women’s Health Protection Act, a crucial step towards establishing federal legal protection for the right to provide and access abortion care. She finds it shameful that the Dobbs decision overturned 50 years of abortion rights, putting her daughter in a position where she faces the same challenges her grandmother did—deprived of the federally recognized right to make her own health care decisions. As a Senator, Angela is determined to stand against misguided Republican efforts to defund Planned Parenthood. Additionally, she will oppose any judicial nominee who does not support abortion rights. Angela firmly believes that Congress and the Supreme Court should respect women’s health care decisions and leave them to be made between women and their doctors.”

There are times when elections present voters with a very clear choice. This is one of those times. Protecting a woman’s right to make her own health care decisions is one of those rare issues that unites everyone – Democrats, Republicans and Independents.

The next Senator from Maryland may indeed be the deciding vote on the most important issues of our time. Voters will have to ask themselves who they want to pick the next Supreme Court justices, and who do they trust to protect a woman’s right to make her own health care decisions? These are the issues on the ballot.

Mr. Hogan can wax on poetically about how both parties are corrupt, and he can suggest that he is fed up with all of the “BS” as he calls it.  Everyone feels that way from time to time. Sure, he looked tough in that flak jacket standing at the border as if he were going to personally tackle immigrants in Texas. Those messages have broad appeal because for far too long Washington has appeared to be broken. But it is all smoke and mirrors.

Don’t fall for the gaslighting.  Don’t fall for the “pox on both their houses” rant. Voters need to focus, focus, and focus some more. Talk is cheap. But the record is clear. This race is about who Maryland will choose to control the United States Senate and who voters believe will protect a woman’s right to choose. The “nice guy” discussion is just not relevant.

Don Mohler is the former Baltimore County Executive and President and CEO of Mohler Communication Strategies. He may be reached at

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