Even as former vice president Joe Biden inches closer to victory in the cliffhanger presidential contest, Maryland Gov. Lawrence J. Hogan Jr. (R) ― who wrote in Ronald Reagan on his presidential ballot ― sees silver linings in this week’s election results.
“There’s no question it was a pretty good night for Republican candidates up and down the ballot,” Hogan said during a webinar Wednesday with Washington Post national political reporter Robert Costa.
Symbolically sporting a purple tie, Hogan declined to say whether he thought a potential Trump defeat would be good for the Republican Party. But he did note that “common sense conservatives” ― most of them unaffiliated with Trump ― outperformed the president just about everywhere on Tuesday.
Hogan endorsed six Republicans this fall ― Vermont Gov. Phil Scott, Maine Sen. Susan Collins, three members of the House of Representatives, and a House challenger ― and all but one, the challenger, New Jersey state Sen. Tom Kean Jr., prevailed.
All are center-right Republicans who, like Hogan, appeal to women, minorities and suburban voters far more than Trump. Hogan pointed out that he has outperformed Trump by “45 points” in Maryland ― a reference to the president’s 30-point deficit to Biden in the Free State, along with Hogan’s 13-point re-election victory in 2018.
Hogan has been the rare Republican officeholder willing (and sometimes even eager) to criticize Trump. Hogan frequently rails against ideological extremists in both political parties, and suggests voters are sick of Washington, D.C., insiders and believe political leaders ought to emphasize compromise over confrontation.
Responding to a question by Costa, Hogan was sharply critical of Trump’s televised address to the nation at 2:30 a.m. Wednesday, in which he declared victory in the White House contest but suggested that fraudsters were trying to take it away.
“I thought it was outrageous and uncalled for and a terrible mistake,” Hogan said.
He added that every ballot needs to be counted and that Americans need to be patient before drawing conclusions about the election results.
Asked what he would say to a President-Elect Biden if they had a brief conversation about the COVID-19 pandemic, Hogan said he would counsel Biden to resist pressure from the progressive wing of his party during policy debates. Pressed about specific advice on addressing COVID-19, Hogan said he would urge Biden to work with Congress on a deal on relief funding as quickly as possible and would urge him to expedite development of a coronavirus vaccine.
“I’m afraid we’ve still got many months ahead in this tremendous struggle, both on the public health side and the economic side,” he said.
Asked whether he had any interest in running for president in 2024, Hogan demurred, saying it was premature to talk about 2024 when the 2020 election hasn’t been resolved yet ― and that he wanted to “stayed focused on the day job.”
But pressed by Costa, Hogan asserted that win or lose, Trump would continue to wield enormous influence over the GOP, but that other voices and points of view should be welcomed into the conversation about the future of the party.
Hogan predicted that while there will be 15 Republican candidates for president in 2024 “who want to become the next Donald Trump,” there would be a far smaller “common sense lane” whose candidates would appeal to many voters.
“I think looking to a common sense governor is not such a far-fetched idea,” he said.
By Josh Kurtz