GOP Raises Bid to Persuade Hogan to Run for Senate in Maryland – CBS Baltimore

(AP) – Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell and other top Republicans are stepping up a personal campaign to convince Maryland Governor Larry Hogan to run for the Senate and give the party a chance to regain control. hospital control.

Recruiting efforts include McConnell’s wife, Elaine Chao, who held Cabinet positions in the Trump administration, and George W. Bush. Moderate Senate Republicans, including Susan Collins of Maine, have also reached out to Hogan directly to note that his brand of politics-centricity would be welcome in a boardroom with the party. Several other Washington officials have pledged finances or shared internal polls to try to convince Hogan that he has a path to victory.

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President Joe Biden has raised Maryland 32 percentage points in 2020, and a Republican has not won federal office statewide in more than 30 years. Hogan, whose term limits have prevented him from running for re-election, has long resisted the idea of ​​challenging incumbent Democratic Senator Chris Van Hollen. One of the GOP’s most prominent critics of former President Donald Trump, Hogan has toyed with hosting a presidential campaign in 2024.

However, his recent willingness to engage with prominent recruiters suggests that Hogan has not ruled out running for the Senate. Instead, if he enters the race for the Senate, it will force Democrats to put money and other resources in the perennial green at a time when they are already preparing for a tough campaign season on the ground. across the country.

Hogan said Monday that he remains focused on his job as governor.

“While I appreciate all the encouragement and pervasive support in Maryland and across the country, my focus continues to be on leading Maryland through the COVID-19 pandemic, continuing the economic recovery. and address rising violent crime,” Hogan told The Associated Press. “As long as I have the honor of being governor, I will give this job all I have.”

Recruiting efforts have been described by many people with direct knowledge of the talks. They requested anonymity to discuss private conversations.

Hogan’s decision, which must come before the February 22 application deadline, is one of the last big unanswered questions as the Senate landscape begins to stabilize as we head into the first midterm election cycle. first in Biden’s presidency.

Publicly, Democrats remain confident of their standing in a state where Democrats outnumber Republicans by a 2-to-1 ratio.

“Our campaign is fully prepared for whoever Mitch McConnell hires to run here,” said Van Hollen spokesman Keith Presley. “Senator Van Hollen is busy working to get results for the people of Maryland and protect our democracy.”

For their part, McConnell and Florida Senator Rick Scott, who lead the GOP’s Senate campaign branch, have held numerous recruiting conversations with Hogan in recent months. McConnell’s lieutenant, Steven Law, who leads a super PAC allied to McConnell, also spoke with the Republican governor.

More recently, however, the push to recruit GOPs has become more personal.

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When Hogan was not convinced by McConnell’s statements, Chao encouraged a Senate bid during a private lunch with Hogan’s wife at the Maryland governor’s mansion, where Hogan attended for a time. short. Chao had planned to take her father to another private lunch with Hogan, although it was canceled due to concerns about COVID-19.

During lunch, Chao emphasized a sense of community on Capitol Hill with the families of other senators. She also appealed to Mrs. Hogan’s patriotism, supporting the Senate as a great way for Hogans to serve their country. Chao and Yumi Hogan, both prominent Asian Americans, were friends before the Senate race made headlines.

At the same time, several Republican senators, including Collins, contacted Hogan directly to encourage him to run for office. And more than one suitor, including at least one Republican governor, has made the case that the Senate could be a stepping stone to a future presidential run, something Hogan has openly contemplated. .

Those close to Hogan are skeptical that he will ultimately decide to run for the Senate. So far, he has done nothing to prepare for a Senate campaign beyond agreeing to speak to his Republican recruiters.

Washington Republicans are betting that Hogan can break their losing streak in Maryland. He has won statewide office twice, including in 2018, an election year pro-Democrats nationally. He has received strong rave reviews during his tenure.

But history shows that appeals in statewide elections may not move to higher office. Two-term former governor of Montana, Steve Bullock, is the Democratic nominee for the Senate in 2020, who has gone on to lose the race by 10 percentage points in a campaign dominated by national issues.

Facing a similarly dynamic and denigrated partisan in Washington, New Hampshire Governor Chris Sununu in November resisted the aggressive lobbying push from McConnell and his allies and instead that announced plans to seek another governor’s term.

If Hogan runs, his team knows he will be tested like never before.

So far, for example, he has largely avoided the stain of a burgeoning ethics scandal involving his former chief of staff, Roy McGrath, who is facing multiple criminal charges. federal and state involvement in the severance package he sought when leaving his top job at a semi-public agency serving as Hogan’s top aide.

The tumultuous situation was just the kind that critics of political ammunition on both sides could use to attack Hogan in a well-funded TV ad campaign.

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“The fact that Hogan will vote to become majority leader Mitch McConnell and turn the Senate over to the Republican party – coupled with his escalating corruption and ethics scandals – will provide voters with more reasons to categorically reject his campaign,” said David Bergstein, spokesman for the campaign branch of the Senate Democrats. “If he runs for office, all he will do is join the 40-year long history of Republicans losing statewide federal elections in Maryland.” GOP Raises Bid to Persuade Hogan to Run for Senate in Maryland – CBS Baltimore

Dustin Huang

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