Blue-State Republican Governor Says He Won’t Challenge Trump

‘We can reject the extremes of both political parties, work to break partisan gridlock and bring people together…’

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Larry Hogan/IMAGE: YouTube

(Luke Broadwater, The Baltimore Sun) Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan announced Saturday he will not be challenging President Donald Trump in a Republican primary in the 2020 election.

Hogan, the popular GOP governor in his second term governing a blue state, said that instead of running he would be launching a national nonprofit advocacy organization called “An America United.”

“I truly appreciate all of the encouragement I received from people around the nation urging me to consider making a run for President in 2020,” Hogan said in a statement. “However, I will not be a candidate. Instead, I am dedicated to serving my second-term as Maryland Governor and in my new role leading America’s governors as the incoming Chairman of the National Governors Association

For months, Hogan had considered a run against Trump, but took few concrete steps to seriously launch a campaign.

In April, he traveled to New Hampshire to speak to an influential crowd of about 100 business and political leaders at the “Politics & Eggs” speaker series — regarded as a “must” stop for presidential hopefuls — at Saint Anselm College’s New Hampshire Institute of Politics. The state is home to the first U.S. presidential primary, scheduled in 2020 for February.

There, he said he planned to travel to 16 states and gauge the feelings of voters toward a possible presidential run. Hogan even openly discussed a potential strategy — attracting the votes of Democrats and independents in states where Republicans hold primaries open to anyone, regardless of party affiliation — and said he thought a short campaign beginning as late as November could be successful.

“People have asked me to give this some serious thought, and I think I owe it to them to give it serious consideration,” Hogan had said of challenging Trump.

Polling has shown little appetite among the Republican base for a primary challenge to Trump.

In April, the Granite State Poll of New Hampshire voters showed about 63% of respondents surveyed said they would vote for Trump in the Feb. 11 primary, while just 1% said they would vote for Hogan.

Even in Maryland where Hogan is highly popular, a Gonzales Research & Media Services poll found in May that he would win just 24% of the vote in the state’s GOP primary, while Trump would capture 68% of Republican votes.

Even so, Hogan said he would focus his future efforts on reshaping the Republican Party after Trump leaves office.

“I also want to play a major national role in the years ahead, both within my own party and in the path our country takes,” Hogan said. “We can reject the extremes of both political parties, work to break partisan gridlock and bring people together to advance bold solutions for all Americans.”

The governor said An America United would support “bipartisan, common-sense solutions to create more and better jobs,” promote “fiscal responsibility, environmental protection,” improve education and rebuild “America’s decaying and neglected infrastructure.”

Hogan has several public events listed this week in Maryland, including delivering his fifth annual State of Business Address at Arundel Mills on Tuesday.

On Wednesday, he will preside over the Board of Public Works meeting, where the panel will vote on his proposal to add hundreds of miles of express toll lanes on the Capital Beltway and Interstate 270 between Washington and Frederick.

Critics deride the governor’s plan as creating “Lexus Lanes” that will only be used by the rich, while potentially seizing homes and private property in the area to widen the highways. But the governor argues the plan benefits taxpayers who are sitting in “soul crushing traffic,” because the highway expansion would be paid for by private developers, who would then collect the toll revenue.

According to a recent Washington Post poll, 61% of D.C.-area residents favor Hogan’s express toll lane plan.

©2019 The Baltimore Sun. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.