Md. Dem governor nominee says Larry Hogan is 'close to Trump's lieutenants'

Former NAACP President Ben Jealous, the newly minted Democratic nominee in Maryland’s gubernatorial race, said Gov. Larry Hogan (R) has close ties with Trump administration officials.

When asked about Hogan’s popularity as governor of a blue state, Jealous likened the Republican's policies to those backed by President TrumpDonald John TrumpA better VA, with mental health services, is essential for America's veterans Pelosi, Nadler tangle on impeachment, contempt vote Trump arrives in Japan to kick off 4-day state visit MORE's allies. Jealous is seeking to tie Hogan to administration officials like Education Secretary Betsy DeVosElizabeth (Betsy) Dee DeVosThe Hill's Morning Report — After contentious week, Trump heads for Japan DeVos family of Michigan ends support for Amash The Hill's Morning Report - White House, Congress: Urgency of now around budget MORE and Attorney General Jeff SessionsJefferson (Jeff) Beauregard SessionsFive takeaways from Barr's new powers in 'spying' probe Amash: Some of Trump's actions 'were inherently corrupt' 'Persuadable' voters are key to the 2020 election — and the non-screaming news industry MORE in a state where Trump lost by more than 26 points in the 2016 election.

“What people see is that he’s close to Trump’s lieutenants,” Jealous said in a Tuesday interview on Hill.TV’s “Rising.”

“He brings Betsy DeVos into the state and tours her around," Jealous added. "He echos and even helps to push the agenda of Jeff Sessions on both incarceration and on dealing with refugees and migrants.” 

When asked how he differs from Hogan on policy, Jealous pointed to his long-time work on criminal justice reform, an issue that has earned bipartisan support in Washington. He said he’s worked for 25 years on this issue and has reached across the aisle during that time.

But Jealous attacked Hogan’s previous proposals in a comprehensive crime bill for the state.

“Larry Hogan has pushed new mandatory minimums, which we all know failed and are outrageously expensive, just like Jeff Sessions,” Jealous said. “That puts Hogan out of step with, frankly, a broad cross-section of voters on this issue.”

Jealous won the Democratic primary last week by a double-digit margin and will now face Hogan in a tough general election fight in November. Despite Maryland’s deep-blue hue, Hogan is one of the most popular governors in the country and has maintained high job approval numbers.

Hogan's campaign pushed back on Jealous's attacks, criticizing the Maryland Democrat for "distorting the governor's record."

“Ben Jealous likes to talk, Governor Hogan takes action. And unlike Jealous, the governor has actually stood up to this administration when he’s has disagreed with them," said Hogan campaign spokesman Scott Sloofman.

"And while Jealous talks about criminal justice reform, Governor Hogan worked with Democratic leaders to enact the Justice Reinvestment Act, historic, bipartisan criminal justice reform here in Maryland."

— Lisa Hagen