Last week’s announcement by former Governor Larry Hogan that he is running to succeed retiring U.S. Senator Ben Cardin triggered immediate and widespread speculation on if he will be the first Maryland Republican to be elected to the Senate since 1980.
Larry Sabato veteran political observer at the University of Virginia has shown caution in his reaction to this news.
For now, Sabato has shifted his rating on the race to replace Cardin from Safe Democratic to Likely Democratic.
He has done so assuming Larry Hogan will be the Republican nominee.
This is a good assumption, but not a given.
Currently there are currently six other Republicans who have filed for the nomination with the state board of elections for the spring Republican primary election.
Conventional political wisdom is Hogan will be the Republican nominee.
Now more than ever conventional wisdom in the political world has been turned upside down and sideways.
The political world is now a VUCA world, one characterized by high and increasing levels of volatility, uncertainty, complexity, and ambiguity.
Recall the conventional wisdom when Larry Hogan announced his first campaign for governor.
Conventional wisdom then was no Republican could win statewide in deep blue Maryland.
Undaunted and with a memorable message that resonated deeply with Maryland voters –“Change Maryland” — Larry Hogan went on to defeat the incumbent Lieutenant Governor and then was reelected to a second term.
Conventional wisdom was wrong.
After eight years of years of Hogan serving as governor, conventional wisdom was that Kelly Schulz would be the Republican nominee to succeed Hogan.
Schulz was a former Republican member in the Maryland House of Delegates, a former Hogan cabinet secretary for two departments – the Department of Labor, Licensing, and Regulation, and the Department of Commerce, and was endorsed by Governor Hogan.
Conventional wisdom was Kelly could be branded as best person to continue Governor Hogan’s governing philosophy and style that resulted in extraordinarily high job performance rating during his two terms.
Former Maryland House of Delegates member Dan Cox opposed her in the primary.
Cox’s frustration with Hogan’s policies (especially his aggressive public lock down policies on Covid control) and Hogan’s moderate approach to governing led to a decision by Cox to introduce a House resolution to impeach Hogan.
While that resolution went nowhere in the House of Delegates, it energized and mobilized enough Republican primary voters who shared Cox’s frustration with Hogan to propel Cox to winning the GOP gubernatorial nomination.
Conventional wisdom was wrong again.
In a VUCA political world there is no question that Larry Hogan is a gifted politician who twice proved conventional wisdom wrong.
There is also no question he is a politician whose decision to pursue a run for the U.S. Senate reflects thinking that fortune favors the bold.
The question to be determined is will his bold move in increasingly blue Maryland result in his election to the U.S Senate and perhaps beyond or be recorded in his biography as a noble but impossible goal.
As they often say in the TV news world — “stay tuned as this is a developing story.”
David Reel is a public affairs and public relations consultant who lives in Easton.