WASHINGTON — Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan won a decisive re-election Tuesday, beating back a progressive challenger and becoming the first Republican governor to win a second term in the state in more than 60 years.
Though registered Democrats far outnumber Republicans in the state, Hogan had positioned himself as a moderate problem-solver, distancing himself from President Donald Trump and focusing on bread-and-butter issues, such as transportation.
Leading into election night, Hogan had maintained a sizable lead over Democratic candidate Ben Jealous, the former national president of the NAACP.
Hogan is the state’s first two-term Republican governor since Maryland voters gave Theodore McKeldin a second term in 1954.
'Turns out I can surf:' Gov. Larry Hogan on his historic win despite blue wave
Jealous, the former national president of the NAACP, had staked out a broadly progressive agenda popular with Democrats — universal health care and free college tuition — even as he has struggled to gain traction in the polls.
On election night, Hogan racked up double-digit victories in Maryland’s far western counties, in Southern Maryland and along the Eastern Shore.
Jealous notched hefty vote totals in Prince George’s County — where he received 70 percent of the vote — and in Baltimore City. Jealous also carried Montgomery County, but even in that Democratic stronghold, Hogan managed nearly 45 percent of the vote.
Jealous tweeted to his supporters to “Stay in line. Keep voting.” At his concession speech to supporters gathered at the Hippodrome Theater in Baltimore at about 11 p.m. Tuesday, Jealous said he thought it was wrong for news networks to call the race while people were still waiting to vote.
'I look forward to getting that done:' Democrat Ben Jealous on working with Gov. Larry Hogan
Jealous had aimed for high turnout to provide him with a path to victory over the popular Republican governor, but that strategy failed to materialize.
Turnout, overall, was up 20 percent compared to 2014, according to Todd Eberly, an associate professor of political science at St. Mary’s College of Maryland. But Jealous received just 8 percent more votes than the Democratic candidate for governor did four years ago. Hogan, on the other hand, increased his vote total by 35 percent, according to Eberly.
Still, Jealous urged his supporters to keep working for progressive priorities.
He told supporters that they began Election Day as builders of a movement, “and we leave together movement-builders. And let’s go build the movement that makes the future of Maryland come faster!”
WTOP’s Michelle Basch contributed to this report from Annapolis and Kate Ryan contributed to this report from Baltimore.
Jack Moore joined WTOP.com as a digital writer/editor in July 2016. Previous to his current role, he covered federal government management and technology as the news editor at Nextgov.com, part of Government Executive Media Group.