ANNAPOLIS, Md. — Even before he walked into the Governor’s Reception Room in Maryland’s State House, staff members and supporters were on their feet, giving Republican Larry Hogan a standing ovation.
“Thank you, thank you,” he said. “I’m really surprised to to see that kind of energy after … I know a lot of you were out very late last night!”
The first Republican governor to be re-elected in 60 years in Maryland — and who beat Democrat Ben Jealous by 16 points in a very blue state — said, “from Day One, we’ve tried to govern differently,” repeating his position of looking for the best ideas, no matter which side of the aisle they come from.
Hogan, who resisted early efforts by Democrats to tie him to the politics of President Donald Trump, said the election was a repudiation of the kind of tone coming from the White House.
“We had President Trump say the election should be about him even though he’s not on the ballot,” Hogan said, “and in Maryland, that’s exactly what happened.”
“People came out and expressed their frustrations against just about all Republicans in our state,” with the exception of Hogan himself. “People decided they wanted to keep me, and they brought in a whole lot of Democrats,” he said.
Hogan was asked about the fact that he didn’t get a congratulatory call from the White House.
“You know,” he said, pausing, “my feelings aren’t hurt. I wasn’t really expecting a call.”
The Republican Party has to “take a close look at itself, and not just in Maryland, but nationally,” said Hogan, adding he’ll take on the top job at the National Governor’s Association, and hopes that he can help retool the party in that way.
“I think that will give me a platform to be involved in all the issues,” he said.
After Hogan’s news conference, Maryland’s Senate President Mike Miller spoke to reporters about Democrat Ben Jealous’ loss to Hogan. Referring to Jealous’ progressive platform, Miller said, “His message might have played better in California than it did in Maryland.”
But while Miller said Jealous’ platform might have been too far to the left, he gave the former candidate credit for the fight he took on: “I think he ran the best campaign possible,” Miller said.
Still, if the Democrats had put forth a different candidate — either James Shea or Prince George’s County Executive Rushern Baker, who lost to Jealous in the primary — Miller believed the Democrats could have done better than Jealous.
Over the next four years, the governor said, he’ll keep the focus on the same areas he worked on in his first term: education, preserving the health of the Chesapeake Bay, the economy and transportation.
“If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it,” he said. “It seems to be working, and people seem to be happy with what we’ve been doing, so I can’t imagine why we’d want to change.”