Hogan turns Maryland Senate campaign to public safety

This article was republished with permission from WTOP’s news partners at Maryland Matters. Sign up for Maryland Matters’ free email subscription today.

A week after winning the Republican primary for U.S. Senate, Larry Hogan is turning his focus on public safety even as his Democratic opponent continues a focus on the former governor’s position on abortion.

The 10-point position paper released Wednesday by Hogan, his first since the May 14 primary, touches on some public safety themes that were part of his two terms as governor. It also includes red meat for voters in the Republican base who want tougher enforcement along the country’s southern border.

“We can no longer allow politics to get in the way of public safety,” Hogan said in a statement with the plan. “There are bipartisan common sense solutions that the federal government can urgently adopt that will make a difference and save lives. In the Senate, I will make it a top priority to bring people in both parties together to get this done, support our law enforcement, and make our communities safer.”

Hogan released the paper following a Wednesday morning appearance on WBAL Radio. He has also met recently with groups representing local and federal law enforcement.

Topping Hogan’s list is tougher punishments for repeat violent offenders. Hogan said he would support continued federal efforts to reduce crime in communities using an “‘Al Capone model’ of pursuing federal firearms, fraud and other criminal charges” against repeat violent offenders.

As governor, Hogan repeatedly proposed legislation imposing stiffer sentences on repeat violent offenders. Those bills repeatedly failed in the legislature.

He also unsuccessfully proposed legislation aimed at holding judges accountable. Hogan includes similar calls for accountability as part of his Senate campaign, saying he would seek to hold “prosecutors and Senate-confirmed nominees” accountable.

“We put in legislation before while I was governor … the judicial transparency bill, to hold them accountable, because it was outrageous that people were being arrested five, six times for violent crimes and doing no time and being let out on the streets,” Hogan said during Wednesday’s radio interview. “You know, we have some prosecutors, including in Baltimore City previously, that refuse to prosecute crimes.”

The paper also calls for tougher enforcement along the nation’s southern border, including more Customs and Border Protection officers and immigration judges. Hogan also called for “fixing the asylum process,” though the paper does not say what that fix would include, beyond working to find a bipartisan solution.

A campaign spokesperson for Angela Alsobrooks, the Democratic nominee from Prince George’s County, did not respond to a request for comment on the Hogan plan.

Hogan’s focus on crime tracks with recent polling showing public safety remains a top concern of voters. A poll released in April by Goucher College, in partnership with the Baltimore Banner, found 78% of voters interviewed said a candidate’s position on public safety would be a major consideration in the coming election.

It comes as violent crime in Maryland has been on a downward trend over the last decade, including in 2022, the most recent year for which there are complete statistics.

Earlier this year, lawmakers were told that violent crime in Maryland decreased 16% between 2012 and 2022. Nationally, the average decrease was 2% in the same decade, according to a briefing by the Council of State Governments’ Justice Center.

Baltimore recorded 263 homicides in 2023, the first time in eight years that the city reported fewer than 300 homicides. But at the same time, the city saw increases in violence involving juveniles.

In neighboring Baltimore County, officials reported declines in both homicides and non-fatal shootings. The county reported 29 homicides in 2023, down 15% year-over-year and down nearly 50% from 2021. The county also reported a 14% decrease in nonfatal shootings in 2023 compared to the year before.

Concern about public safety ranked first among nine topics in the poll that voters said would factor into the election, besting jobs and the economy, taxes and governmental spending, health care and gun control. Six in 10 voters said a candidate’s position on abortion would be a major factor in determining their vote.

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