Sunday, May 3, 2015

Will Governor Hogan become Walker or Christie?

Maryland Governor Larry Hogan went from the sidelines to the spotlight in November, winning an unlikely upset in the deeply Democratic Old Line State.

No one was paying attention to the Maryland's gubernatorial race, until Republican Larry Hogan, son of Congressman Laurence Hogan, won the race.

Change Maryland

Change Maryland, Hogan's grassroots organization, changed Maryland.

So far, following from the first budget session of the Republican governor, he has followed through on his fiscally conservative platform, repealing the dreaded rain tax, as well as cutting wasteful contracts and expanding charter schools.

In a forum discussing his first one hundred days in office, Hogan recognized that he did not get everything that he wanted, nor did the Democratic legislature.

Hogan's political situation mirrors that of a few other Republican governors along the East Coast, including Massachusetts' Charlie Baker and New Jersey's Chris Christie, as all three of them are red governors still representing deep-blue states with heavy Democratic majorities in the state legislature.

This set-up brings up a serious question: will Governor Hogan turn into Governor Christie, or does he have the chance to become a real reform and shape the culture in his state, much like Scott Walker of Wisconsin?

Granted, Hogan invited his New Jersey counterpart to speak at his inauguration. Do the similarities continue from there?

For the time being, I gladly submit: "No".

Governor Larry Hogan

Hogan has been a team player for at least a decade, and his coalition of Democrats and Independents reveals a capacity to work with different ideological backgrounds, but still achieve results.

Once in office, Hogan did not parade just himself. He worked with his team of advisers, and set up realistic goals. Clear and convincing without blare and bombast, the small business owner has focused on accomplishing needed tasks without making himself the forefront.

His very interesting One Hundred Days forum featured his interest in cooperation, as he consistently refused to take all the time for himself to talk. Hogan passed the microphone around, allowing his Republican colleagues, including the current Lieutenant Governor, to share their thoughts about the first budget session. Good leadership is based on more than "Look what I did!" but "See what we have accomplished."

New Jersey Governor Chris Christie

In contrast to the Hogan win in 2014, Bush surrogate then US Attorney Chris Christie of New Jersey  unseated an unpopular incumbent in 2009. He accomplished something memorable and compelling, yet he did so without his own grassroots coalition.

Within days, Christie gained a lot of attention, not just for winning as a Republican in Democratic New Jersey, but for his plain-spoken affronts to the press and the Democratic legislature. He took a firm stance against unions early on and killed expensive government projects.

Yet from the outset, he was the center of attention, and he seemed more intent on getting along to go along. Hogan has worked with his Democratic legislative counterparts, but he is also building his party, the conservative brand, and prepping for the long-term.

From the moment Christie made the front-page news with his brash style, he made himself the subject of attention. He did not talk about bringing up his party, nor did he focus on getting more Republicans into the state legislature. Rather than working the legislature in line with reform policies, he worked with the legislature according to their leads. He played along.

Pension liabilities, spending, waste and fraud, and much-needed fiscal and government reforms won't work without a more like-minded legislature.

Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker

Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker understood the importance of a team effort to put forward and advance key reforms. He did not run for Governor in 2010 on his own, but a concerted effort brought in other Republicans, who gained majorities in Madison.

Will Maryland's Hogan end up like Governor Christie, getting along to go along in Annapolis with the Democratic machine majorities, or will he work with local conservatives and the general public to expand his coalition and get like-minded legislators into the General Assembly in the next election?

Based on his measured and professional response to the Baltimore riots, plus his strong efforts with the Maryland Republican Party, Hogan is more on line to be like Scott Walker, but time will tell.

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