By Last Reporter
Republican Larry Hogan, an Anne Arundel County businessman who has never held public office before, upset Democratic favorite Lt. Gov. Anthony G. Brown by becoming governor of Maryland, one of the bluest of blue states in the Union, where Democrats voter registration is 2 to 1 over Republicans.
The major upset had Hogan winning with 847,107 votes, or 51% of the vote, compared to Brown’s 770,511, or 46% of the vote.
While there is little doubt that Hogan’s victory was aided by the national Republican wave that enabled the Party to capture a majority of seats in the Senate, it is also clear that the new governor-elect was helped by a sagging Maryland economy and the 40 tax increases imposed during the two-term administration of Gov. Martin O’Malley, who is busy running for president.
But most political pundits believe that the election was Brown’s to lose and lose it he did by peppering voters with a series of mailers, commercials and statements that tried to paint Hogan as a right-wing extremist who would try to make abortion illegal and military style weapons legal. Late in the campaign, when it became apparent that Hogan was gaining traction, the Democratic Party resorted to ugly race baiting.
Brown, who is an African-American, refused to repudiate flyers sent in the Party’s name to African-American neighborhoods implying that if Hogan were elected governor, Maryland would be transformed back to the days of segregation and social injustice. Brown also was aloof with the press and balked at debating Hogan when he was the favored candidate. When he finally did come around and debate Hogan, Brown came off stiff and unnatural, while Hogan came across as the good guy next door, according to political observers.
A Mandate Against — Not For
Although the Republicans and Hogan are trying to claim his win as an historic mandate for the Republican Party, in reality his victory was a mandate against President Barack Obama’s policies and those of the Democratic party, pundits say. They attribute his success to the fact that Hogan was wise enough to avoid personal attacks against Brown during the campaign, and instead focused on his plan to invigorate Maryland’s weak economy with a series of tax cuts, budget cuts and a strong effort to attract new businesses to the state. Hogan also refused to answer false claims made against him by the Brown campaign and instead stuck to the high road and stayed on message.
During his acceptance speech, Hogan graciously praised Brown and thanked him and Gov. O’Malley for their service to the state. Hogan summed up his campaign in one sentence: “They said it couldn’t be done in Maryland. But together we did it.”