November 2014


 

 

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Republicans in Maryland are partying today like it’s 2002, after businessman Larry Hogan beat Lt. Gov. Anthony Brown by a 51.5% to 46.8% margin and in the process becoming the first Republican to hold that office since Bob Ehrlich won a dozen years ago.

Hogan ran a smart campaign by focusing on jobs, taxes and the state of the Maryland economy, reminding voters that the O’Malley-Brown administration was responsible for over 40 tax increases during the last eight years and that i was time for a change which fit perfectly with his Change Maryland group which he started several years ago and served as the base for his campaign launch.

This election was much like 2002 when Ehrlich, ran against Lt. Gov. Kathleen Kennedy Townsend- who added her maiden name in an effort to try and woo voters who liked the Kennedy clan, but who was a very weak candidate much like Anthony Brown was this year.

Brown was handicapped by the tax and spend record of the Democrats and failed miserably in trying to spark any enthusiasm from the Democratic base.

Even so, the race was Browns to lose with a 2-1 registration advantage that should have all but guaranteed him a victory.

Instead he stumbled much like Townsend did by losing counties that O’Malley had either won or was competitive in his two victories.

Here were the keys to Hogan’s victory;

Baltimore County – won by 52,000 votes which is comparable to Ehrlich’s 64,000 vote margin in 2002.  In 2006 the margin was just 8,000 votes and in 2010 he lost by 1,000 votes.

Howard County- won by 5,000 votes.  Ehrlich’s margin of victory  in 2002 was 10,000, but lost Howard by less than 700 votes in 2006 and 10,000 in 2010.

Montgomery County- lost by 61,000 votes. Ehrlich lost by 67,000 in 2002, but that grew to 78,000 in 2006 and 109,000 in 2010.

By winning Baltimore and Howard and reducing the deficit in Montgomery, Hogan robbed Brown of the votes he needed to offset the traditional Republican strongholds on the Eastern shore and Western Maryland and cleared a path to victory.

Hogan was criticized by some Republicans for spending so much time and money in Montgomery County, where it’s virtually impossible for a Republican to win, but the goal wasn’t to win as much as it was to get 40% of the vote.  Hogan fell short of that with almost 37%, but that was far better than Ehrlich’s 30.5% in 2010 comparable to Ehrlich’s 38% from his winning campaign in 2002.

The Brown campaign may go down as the worst Democratic gubernatorial effort in Maryland history, as he garnered 43,00 fewer votes than Townsend- who was the standard bearer of bad campaigns until yesterday and was a whopping 275,000 votes less than O’Malley received in 2010.  All this while Hogan increased the Republican vote totals by 70,000 and was more than Ehrlich had managed to get in the last two elections.

While winning the governor’s race is a big deal in deep blue Maryland, the reality is that Hogan will be severely limited in what he can accomplish over the next four years as he still faces an overwhelmingly Democratic state legislature, but any progress he makes by blocking and  slowing down ruinous Democratic policies will be a victory for all Marylanders.

Hogan

One of the biggest surprises of this election season has been the governor’s race in Maryland where Republican businessman Larry Hogan is taking on Lt. Gov. Anthony Brown turning what should have been a runaway victory for the Democrats into an increasingly tight race that is attracting national attention.

This wasn’t supposed to happen.  Hogan, who runs a real estate firm in Anne Arundel County, served as former Gov. Robert Ehrlich’s Appointments Secretary and entered the race with probably the best name recognition among the four Republican candidates and easily won the primary as expected.

His next task was to focus on Brown and how to beat the incumbent Lt. Governor in a state where the Democrats hold more than a 2-1 registration advantage, and who also had raised millions of dollars for the race.

Rather than get bogged down in social issues which may matter to conservatives, but are poison in deep blue Maryland, Hogan chose to focus on an economic message of jobs and taxes- especially the latter since the O’Malley-Brown administration has been responsible for over 40 tax increases in their eight years in office, including a one-cent increase in the sales tax and a gas tax increase that pegs the taxes to the increase in inflation.  What a brilliant idea! Peg a tax increase to inflation-which we know will increase by some measure every year and therefore guarantee a stream of revenues to the Democratically controlled legislature forever even though taxpayers aren’t guaranteed raises to pay for the taxes.  And by the way- both the sales tax and gas tax hits the lower end of the economic scale the hardest- a group that the Democrats are supposedly the champions of.

This strategy, which the Brown campaign had dismissed is working for Hogan as Democrats who are tired of the increasing tax burden are increasingly warming up to Hogan’s message.  That forced Brown to pledge in one of the debates to not to increase taxes during his term- which voters are having a hard time believing considering his track record in Annapolis.

With the polls showing an increasingly tight race, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie has put the weight of the Republican Governors Association behind Hogan with money and his endorsement.  Christie has come to Maryland to help Hogan, capping it with an appearance Sunday in Baltimore to a packed house of enthusiastic and reenergized Republicans.

While Hogan has been eating into Brown’s base, his best hope is for a scenario like 2002 when Robert Ehrlich beat incumbent Lt. Gov. Kathleen Kennedy Townsend to become the first Republican governor in Maryland in 36 years.  There are some similarities to that race with Brown, like Townsend being a weak candidate and with Democrats showing little enthusiasm for Brown.

A measure of that lack of enthusiasm are the appearances of President Obama and Hillary Clinton, which drew small crowds and those that came mainly wanted pictures of the politicians and didn’t come to hear Brown.

Brown still has the edge in this race thanks to the Democrats large registration advantage, but thanks to his weak campaign, an-off year election and early voting numbers that were designed to help the Democrats showing that they are not very interested in this race spells trouble for Brown.

Democratic apathy though will not be enough to propel Hogan to victory. Republicans must turn out to vote and the independent/unaffiliated voters-which is the fastest growing group of voters in the state also need to cast their votes for Hogan in above average numbers.

Republican voters in Maryland often complain that their vote doesn’t really matter.  While that may appear true in most years this year is different and their votes are crucial if they are serious about ending one-party rule in the state.