Hogan declines to challenge Trump in GOP primary

Hogan declines to challenge Trump in GOP primary
© Greg Nash

Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan (R), who was mulling a challenge to President TrumpDonald John TrumpFormer employees critique EPA under Trump in new report Fired State Department watchdog says Pompeo aide attempted to 'bully' him over investigations Virginia senator calls for Barr to resign over order to clear protests MORE for the Republican Party’s 2020 nomination, has decided to not run for president.

“I truly appreciate all of the encouragement I received from people around the nation urging me to consider making a run for President in 2020. However, I will not be a candidate,” Hogan said in a statement.

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“Instead, I am dedicated to serving my second-term as Maryland Governor and in my new role leading the America’s governors as the incoming Chairman of the National Governors Association. That work is important, and I believe both of those roles will give me the opportunity to make an impact on the direction of my party and our nation,” he added.

Hogan's decision was first reported by The Washington Post.

Hogan has emerged as a vocal critic of the White House, leading several moderate Republicans to wage a months-long campaign to urge him to challenge Trump in the primaries next year.

Despite spurning the call and criticizing the president’s character, Hogan said he would continue to fight to expand the Republican Party’s reach beyond that of Trump’s base.

“We need to have a bigger tent and find a way to get things done,” Hogan told the Post. “We need some civility and bipartisanship. Our politics are broken. Washington is broken. But we have a story to tell.”

In lieu of a White House run, Hogan will instead launch An America United, an advocacy group he says would try to "transcend partisanship" and find common ground between Democrats and Republicans on issues such as infrastructure, saying he is "fed up with the broken and divisive 'politics as usual.'"

He told the Post that the group would not serve as the foundation for an independent presidential run against Trump. 

The Maryland Republican said he made the decision after long discussions with his family.

“We got up every morning, walked on the beach and saw the sunrise, watched some sunsets. We were really just thinking. I would say there were mixed reviews” Hogan, 63, told the Post. “The kids were pretty excited about it. My wife thinks it was the right decision not to.”

“Her big push was, ‘You just got reelected to a second term as governor. You made a commitment to the people of Maryland and that’s where your focus should be.’ She said there is plenty of time to think about the future but right now my attention should be on my day job,” he added. 

Hogan’s decision is just the latest disappointment for the narrowing group of Republicans who had hoped to deny Trump the 2020 presidential nomination. Former Ohio Gov. John Kasich (R) suggested Friday he too will not challenge the president.

"There is no path right now for me. I don't see a way to get there," Kasich, another outspoken moderate, told CNN, citing Trump’s strong poll numbers among Republicans. "Ninety percent of the Republican Party supports him." 

"Maybe somebody wants to run and make a statement and that's fine, but I've never gotten involved in a political race where I didn't think I could win," he added.

Hogan too could have weighed such statistics, with a May poll showing that Maryland Republicans would support Trump over their governor by a more than 2-to-1 margin.

Only former Massachusetts Gov. William WeldWilliam (Bill) WeldVermont governor, running for reelection, won't campaign or raise money The Hill's Campaign Report: Amash moves toward Libertarian presidential bid Libertarians view Amash as potential 2020 game changer for party MORE (R) has jumped into the Republican presidential primary. Though he was the Libertarian Party’s vice presidential candidate in 2016, he lacks the stature and organization enjoyed by Hogan and Kasich.

Hogan told the Post he would “take a look” at supporting Weld but said he has not made any endorsement decision.

“Governor Weld did call me before he announced and we had a nice conversation. I have a lot of respect for him and John Kasich and a lot of these other folks,” he said.

Hogan did not close the door to future White House bids, however, appearing to eye the 2024 presidential contest. 

“I believe there’s going to be a future in the Republican Party beyond President Trump,” Hogan said. “It’s either going to be next year or four years later. But at some point we’re going to be looking for what the future is going to be like.”

Updated at 3:11 p.m.