Larry Hogan looks back at time as Md. governor

In less than one month, Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan will leave the only elected office he’s ever held, and the Republican will do it with an approval rating that continues to hover near 70%.

Hogan spoke with WTOP about his time in office and what the future holds.

State of the GOP

On a day when the Jan. 6 committee on Capitol Hill voted to recommend that former President Donald Trump be charged with four crimes tied to the insurrection, Hogan said the Republican Party has “veered off track” in its current state.

“It’s been the worst six years in Republican Party history,” he said. “We lost almost everything.”

Hogan refers to himself as a “common-sense conservative” and cites his own father, Lawrence Hogan Sr, as a model for integrity and public service. The elder Hogan, who served in Congress from 1969 to 1975, was the only Republican on the House Judiciary Committee to vote for all three articles of impeachment against former President Richard Nixon.

While other Republicans have been reluctant to criticize Trump, Hogan hasn’t shied away from discussing his own concerns about the impact that the former president has had on the country and the party.

“I think that Donald Trump and ‘Trumpism’ peaked in November of ’20. I said at some point it would begin to diminish, it has,” said Hogan, citing that while Trump’s appeal among Republican primary voters remains in fairly strong, “It’s not a majority anymore.”

Hogan said he’s confident that the GOP will come back around to the kind of vision he has for Republican leadership for the country.

“I want to see a more hopeful, positive vision for America,” he said. “I believe in a bigger tent that appeals to more people.”

The First Inauguration

When he ran for governor in 2014, Hogan had never before held elected office. “I remember it like it was yesterday” the day he took office.

During the inauguration outside the Maryland State House in Annapolis, it began to snow. He called the moment “magical.”

“It was almost like a movie where they said ‘cue the snowflakes,’” Hogan said jokingly, stating that it had been said that it would be a cold day in Hell before Maryland would elect a Republican governor in a state where Democrats outnumber Republicans by nearly two to one.

“It was a proud moment,” said Hogan, “I was so happy that I had my dad there with me. I’m proud of my dad. I learned a lot about public service and integrity from him.”

Hogan’s been positioning himself for a possible White House bid, he’s also focused on more immediate matters once his successor, Democrat Gov.-elect Wes Moore takes office. On that day, Hogan said, “I’ll get in the car and pull away, and I’m looking forward to just, you know, pulling up to my home” and letting some of the burdens of eight years in office roll off his shoulders.

“I have a sense of accomplishment, I feel like we got a lot done, and that the state’s in better shape,” Hogan said. “But I’m also looking forward to taking a breather.”

The outgoing governor said he’s looking forward to “Just go back and kind of, be normal. … “I’m looking forward to just maybe walking in the woods or something, or you know, sitting in the recliner.”

Maryland, My Maryland

During his two terms, Hogan’s crisscrossed the state, spending time in all 23 counties and Baltimore City.

Hogan, who was raised in Prince George’s County, said there wasn’t a place in the state that he could say was a favorite.

“It’s like picking your favorite children,” he explained.

But he did admit to finding new places that he wants to visit once out of office.

“I discovered lots of really cool spots that I had never been to,” he said.

“I’ve talked to my wife about when it is a little slower. I’d like to just get around and spend a little time in some of the small towns on the Eastern Shore, in Western Maryland or Southern Maryland,” and spend time relaxing rather than campaigning or on official visits.

Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan called shelter dogs with their caretakers appearing for a bill signing ceremony for several pieces of legislation on the humane treatment of animals one of his favorite days in office. (WTOP/Kate Ryan)

Dog Days at the State House

Like your neighbors who can remember the names of all the dogs in the neighborhood, but draw a blank when asked who their owners are, Hogan admits that on the campaign trail, he did have the habit of focusing on the canines in crowd.

At parades, he said, “I’d stop and talk to the dogs rather than the people” he said with a smile.

“I just love dogs” Hogan said, explaining that he’d had dogs in his life ever since he was a small boy. And when he’s at events where dogs are in attendance, they will get his attention.

“I think dogs know that I’m a dog lover,” Hogan said.

One of Hogan’s fondest memories is the day when at a bill-signing ceremony celebrating four animal-friendly pieces of legislation, advocates from shelters and animal organizations showed up with dogs of all shapes and sizes.

“That was probably one of the best days of being governor. I had puppies licking my face, and dogs running around, and I was like, ‘This is great!’” said Hogan.

After that, Hogan and his wife, first lady Yumi Hogan, decided they would adopt a puppy from a litter at the Baltimore Animal Rescue and Care Shelter (BARCS) in Baltimore.

“We wanted one puppy to replace a dog who had died,” said Hogan. There were four puppies in that litter, and Hogan, deciding that he would get one for his granddaughter, one for press secretary Shareese Churchill and one for Churchill’s parents.

“So we adopted all the puppies,” said Hogan.

But one thing ate at him. The shelter had taken in the puppies along with their mother. Hogan said he turned to his wife, Yumi, and said, “The poor mom. No one’s going to adopt the mom. So we took the mom too, we adopted the whole family.”

Hogan said he was happy to learn that Moore plans on getting a dog for his two children when they come to live at Government House, the official residence of the governor. Hogan, who had given a tour of the residents to Moore, his wife and children said he introduced Moore’s son and daughter to his dogs.

“I could tell the kids are pretty excited about getting a dog,” he said with a laugh. “I think they’re going to keep putting pressure on mom and dad.”

Kate Ryan

As a member of the award-winning WTOP News, Kate is focused on state and local government. Her focus has always been on how decisions made in a council chamber or state house affect your house. She's also covered breaking news, education and more.

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