Larry Hogan: Senate Hopeful's Moderate Image Clashes with Veto History

Hogan's Senate Bid Stirs Political Debate in Maryland

by Zain ul Abedin
Larry Hogan: Senate Hopeful's Moderate Image Clashes with Veto History
© Drew Angerer/Getty Images

Former Governor of Maryland Larry Hogan is eyeing a Senate bid, setting off a furor in the political landscape in Maryland. Often seen as a symbol of anti-Trump Republicanism, Hogan's surprise announcement to run for Senate has breathed new life into the race, giving Republicans a real chance to mount a contest in a state that is traditionally liberal.

Nevertheless, Hogan's time as governor displays a more conservative stripe than is visible in his national image. While widely labeled a moderate, Hogan has vetoed several pieces of legislation that adhere more closely to conservative principles.

Most notably, he vetoed bills that would have expanded access to abortion, imposed stricter background check requirements on gun buyers, and mandated paid family leave. But critics say such a veto record belies Hogan's image as a centrist figure.

Another challenge would be whether his opposition to progressive measures in a state where Democrats outstrip Republicans by nearly two to one - would satisfy his conservative record, analysts said, and could be a liability with voters in Maryland, particularly if control of Washington were still at stake.

Doubts Over Hogan's Moderation

Hogan's entry into the Senate race has riled doubts among Democrats about his moderate credentials. They expect to be able to spotlight his governorship on issues from ethical problems to instances of his administration's incompetence in undermining his candidacy.

Plus, look for Democrats to hit Hogan on his veto record as a marker for his positions on big issues, such as abortion rights. Against all odds, Hogan's candidacy is a window for Republicans to make gains in Maryland. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell has termed Hogan's campaign as a significant gain for the GOP, which could tilt the state into the favor of Republicans in a high-stakes election year.

As the Senate contest heats up, Hogan's record and policy positions will get fresh scrutiny, testing his skill at navigating the political minefield while keeping his bipartisan appeal intact. The election outcome may turn on whether voters see Hogan's record, or instead get convinced by his conservative policy choices.