Top Republicans pressing Hogan to run for Senate
Top Republicans are privately lobbying Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan (R) to mount a challenge to Sen. Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.), according to a person familiar with the efforts.
Among those involved in the effort are Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), McConnell’s wife and former Labor Secretary Elaine Chao, and Sen. Rick Scott (R-Fla.), the chairman of the National Republican Senatorial Committee.
The source familiar with the efforts to nudge Hogan into the Senate race said the Maryland governor has so far entertained the discussions but remains committed to serving out his term, which ends in January 2023, in the governor’s mansion. Hogan has said as much himself.
“While I appreciate all the encouragement and outpouring of support in Maryland and across the country, my focus continues to be on leading Maryland through the COVID-19 pandemic, continuing our economic recovery and addressing rising violent crime,” Hogan told the AP. “As long as I have the honor to serve as governor, I’m going to give this job everything I’ve got.”
The source said that Hogan’s position remains unchanged.
“What he said is true. He’s focused on being governor,” the source said. “He’s been willing to engage with people who have pitched him on the idea, but he’s not interested in running.”
At one point, Chao broached the idea of a Senate campaign with Hogan’s wife, Yumi Kim, during a lunch at the governor’s mansion. Chao and Kim were friends prior to the effort to draft Hogan into the race.
While Maryland is a reliably blue state — President Biden carried it by 33 points in the 2020 election — Hogan, a moderate and one of former President Trump’s most prominent GOP critics, remains deeply popular among Maryland voters. A survey released this week by Gonzales Polls showed the governor’s approval rating at 74 percent. That includes 77.9 percent of Democratic respondents.
Hogan’s broad popularity within Maryland makes him a tempting recruit for McConnell and other top Senate Republicans, who are hoping to recapture control of the upper chamber this year. The GOP needs to net just one Senate seat in November to regain their majority.
Recent internal polling from an outside group showed that, in a head-to-head Senate match-up, Hogan leads Van Hollen 49 percent to 37 percent.
If he ultimately decides to pass on a Senate campaign, Hogan wouldn’t be the first governor to do so this cycle. New Hampshire Gov. Chris Sununu (R) announced in November that he would not challenge Sen. Maggie Hassan (D-N.H.) in 2022, dealing a blow to McConnell and other Senate Republicans who had tried aggressively to draft him into the Senate race.
Hogan is also been floated as a potential contender for the 2024 Republican presidential nomination.