Can Hogan lead in Maryland while dancing to national GOP tune?

trump-hogan_wbal.jpgGov. Larry Hogan continues to flounder as a leader in Maryland while decked out in high, hyped ratings in the rest of the country -- fueled by his relentless book tour and his ubiquity on the cable shows.

Meanwhile he's responding to national GOP dog whistles on school openings (for the privileged) and scare tactics on a safe mail-in vote.

/By Woody Woodruff<>PM BlogSpace Report/ Gov. Larry Hogan continues to flounder as a leader in Maryland while decked out in high ratings in the rest of the country -- fueled by his relentless book tour and his ubiquity on the cable shows.

Here’s the Baltimore Sun’s editorial this (Wednesday) morning:

“Gov. Larry Hogan’s abrupt decision this week to grant special status to schools by amending an emergency statewide order to prevent local health officials from controlling their operation during the pandemic, is not simply nakedly political, it represents yet another cave-in for a governor who just a few months ago stood tall when it came to protecting public health. What happened to the Larry Hogan who was among the first governors in the nation to close all schools? … Instead, Marylanders are confronted with a governor who accuses local election boards of voter suppression because they can’t come up with enough judges to open the polls (a crisis of his own making when he rejected the preferred approach of elections officials to send mail-in ballots to all registered voters) and who gives in to the demands of certain private school interests.

“The governor’s rewrite of local health authority came just three days after Montgomery County Health Officer Travis Gayles had the temerity to do his job. He decided that the data did not support in-person instruction in private and parochial schools until at least Oct. 1. While many private school parents were no doubt disappointed by the ruling, Dr. Gayles is no political flunky or teachers union lackey, as the right-wing commentariat would have one believe (in Maryland, his is an apolitical job with appointments made jointly by the state health secretary and local leadership). He just looked at the numbers.”

Hogan, of course, has since his initial election tried (usually without success) to get laws passed to funnel more taxpayer funds to private schools. It is in GOP DNA to undermine public schools (and their unions) whenever possible, as well as reward the rich. All that preceded Trump and we’ll have to be on our guard about that when Trump is a distant if queasy memory.

And Hogan’s naked attempts to maintain an orthodox Republican rep with 2024 in his sights is no secret. Nor is his knee-jerk sensitivity to the wingnut “influencers” in the GOP pundit corps.

“On the one hand, Hogan gave authority to local officials, but not any leadership. But then he doesn’t accept a situation that he does not like,” said Sen. Paul Pinsky (D-Prince George‘s). “He is cherry picking what group should get what.” Del. Eric G. Luedtke (D-Montgomery) called the governor’s actions hypocritical, a Maryland Matters account related.

“To tell local governments to take responsibility and then take away their power to do their job — that’s frustrating,” Luedtke said. Luedtke and Pinsky expressed doubt that Hogan’s emergency order was scientifically driven, but rather politically driven to secure himself in the Republican party.

Much more serious than dancing to the tunes of GOP social media, though, is the threat that the Guv poses to a fair and safe election in our state. Mr. Hogan’s performance on voting — blaming others for a circumstance he caused and putting everyone at greater health risk by requiring voters to request absentee ballots — is downright Trumpian in both its defiance and warping of reality. Hogan’s finger to the wind of the GOP’s hostility to anything that – like widespread vote-by-mail programs – allows more people across the socioeconomic spectrum to cast votes is bizarre even in Blue-ish Maryland.

Trump’s suggesting that mail-in voting would mean “levels of voting that, if you ever agreed to it, you’d never have a Republican elected in this country again,” was meant to scare all the GOP faithful, not just his faithful, and may have scared Hogan as well. Many a study has found not only that mail-in voting does not result in voter fraud but that it doesn’t confer an advantage on one party or another. But when your governor is dazzled enough by the prospect of a national political profile, it may be hard for him to get his arms around the facts.

As Progressive Maryland's Weekly Memo summarized Monday:

"General Election Update:  As more and more states, the most recent example being Nevada, decide to move to a mostly vote-by-mail system, Governor Hogan refuses to give voters in our state that right.  Voting-by-mail  has proven to be the safest and best way to guarantee the highest possible voter turnout (provided there are not other limits or voter suppression tactics in place.)

"Local election officials from both major parties, advocacy groups, and everyday Marylanders support a streamlined and safe way to cast their ballots for this consequential 2020 election. Giving Marylanders only two options,  absentee voting or in-person voting, when the pandemic is worsening, amounts to suppressing the vote.

"We used vote-by-mail for the June Primary Election. We can do that again, even better, to cast our ballots in the General. There’s still time for the state to implement this.  Urge the Governor  to do the right thing. Call him this week at 410-974- 3901  or 1-800-811-8336 

"On social media please boost this message: https://twitter.com/everyonevotesmd/status/1289218086269145092?s=21"

 

As he turns over the chairmanship of the National Governor’s Association today to Gov. Andrew Cuomo of New York, Hogan loses a platform and pedestal that propelled his book tour very nicely. But now perhaps he will settle down to resume leading in Maryland rather than posturing for the benefit of the GOP movers and shakers in, well, less enlightened parts of the US.

We won’t necessarily count on it.