Former Gov. Hogan Walks Political Tightrope in Maryland Senate Bid

Andy DePaola warmly greeted Larry Hogan at his family’s restaurant with a smile and handshake, but moments later, he offered a cautionary whisper.

“I’m a Trumper,” DePaola confided as Hogan mingled with patrons and posed for photos at DePaola’s Bagel and Brunch on Maryland’s Eastern Shore. “I think Larry would be better off if he kept how he felt about Trump under his breath.”

This brief encounter during a bus tour underscores the political challenge facing Hogan, the former Republican governor of Maryland, as he seeks to win a Senate seat in a deeply Democratic state. Hogan’s candidacy has injected new energy into the Senate race, drawing attention from both supporters and skeptics of former President Donald Trump.

Hogan hopes to become the first Republican in over 40 years to win a Senate seat in Maryland, where Democrats outnumber Republicans by a 2-1 ratio statewide. His delicate political balancing act is crucial to maintaining his diverse coalition of supporters.

In an interview, Hogan confirmed that he would caucus with Republicans in Washington, despite his differences with Trump. He emphasized his commitment to the Republican Party but distanced himself from Trump’s “Make America Great Again” movement.

While Hogan faces little opposition within the GOP, Democrats are gearing up for a competitive nomination process to challenge him in the general election. They are critical of Hogan’s record as governor, particularly on issues like abortion and healthcare.

During a recent low-profile bus tour across Maryland, Hogan emphasized his focus on ending divisiveness in Washington, addressing border security, crime, and the economy. He downplayed the significance of abortion as a campaign issue, despite its importance to many voters.

Hogan’s approach has resonated with some voters, regardless of party affiliation. Landa Mitchell, a Maryland resident, expressed openness to supporting Hogan despite not being a Republican.

“He’s not far right-wing,” Mitchell said, reflecting on Hogan’s appeal. “He knows how to work with people.”

Hogan acknowledges the challenges ahead and is careful not to alienate Trump supporters while appealing to a broader base of voters. Despite his differences with Trump, Hogan recognizes the importance of maintaining a diverse coalition to win in a tough political landscape like Maryland.