Republicans are rejoicing over gubernatorial wins in deep blue states. Massachusetts has elected its first Republican Governor in eight years. Despite his lackluster showing in 2010 against liberal incumbent Deval Patrick, Charlie Baker took his prior ground game, gained momentum, and overcame Attorney General Martha Coakley, who has never campaigned well statewide. In Illinois, Democrats young and old lined up behind businessman Bruce Rauner because the state needed new leadership and direction.
Maryland State Flag
Then there’s Maryland, where neither Democrats nor Republicans were paying attention, unlike the other two races mentioned above. How could a practically anointed Democratic successor to left-of-Obama Martin O’Malley blow a double-digit lead in deep blue Maryland?
Bloomberg TV commentators were scratching their heads and wagging their tongues on this race. Like many media elites, these talking heads answered their own questions without realizing it.
[Democratic candidate Anthony] Brown just pulled on the same levers they always do. It’s about the environment, and it just didn’t produce a treat this time.
Marylanders are probably more worried about the influx of illegal immigrants, the state’s decision to allow illegals to get drivers’ licenses, along with the decimated waste of the state’s Obamacare website, and the lackluster economy.
Annie Linksey shared:
He [Brown] spent the majority of his campaign talking about guns, and little else.
Governor O’Malley’s attempted gun restrictions met with heavy opposition in Annapolis. The disjunction between the state capital and the more conservative rural sections of the state set off a secession movement from the rest of the state, too. Gun-grabbers fared terribly in 2014. For all his protests about a pen and a phone, Obama could not budge against man’s innate drive for self-preservation. The National Rifle Association commands extensive political influence precisely because they understand man’s fundamental right not only to protect himself from criminals, but from criminal enterprises like Big Government.
Former Congressman Bob Dornan could not have stated better:
The Second Amendment is not for killing little ducks, and leaving Huey, Dewey, and Louie without an aunt and uncle. It is for hunting politicians when they take your independence away.
A third person mentioned Spiro T. Agnew, the former Republican governor and Vice President under Richard Nixon. Really? How does a long-deceased politician (and political machine) connect with Larry Hogan’s upset. The Bloomberg discussion exposed the elite, out-of-touch media mentality which does not engage nor absorb the consequences of Democratic policies on the Main Street populace.
Still missing the big picture, Lahnee Chen claimed that Republicans had rebranded:
If you look at last night, the Republicans who did well didn’t run conventional campaigns. I think of a guy like Cory Gardner, who was able to defeat Mark Udall in part because he ran a different type of campaign. He was a different type of Republican.
This analysis begs the question. How did Larry Hogan win in Maryland, not Cory Gardner in Colorado: that is the focus. For the record, Gardner did run a different type of campaign, but he did not run from GOP values. He was pro-life, pro-second amendment, pro-health care reform. He reached out to all voters. He talked about issues that Coloradans cared about: jobs and education, the same concerns which Hispanic voters share. Nothing special there. If anything, Gardner played offense, cutting at a distortionary mainstream media, then while attacked Udall as a lock-step foot soldier for the unpopular Obama Administration.
Then another guest on the panel brought the discussion back to Maryland, and Annapolis particularly, quoting a member of Governor-elect Hogan’s staff:
It’s not a realignment. It’s not turning a blue state red. It’s people who are tired of the last eight years.
Lahnee Chen reaffirmed:
It’s fatigue with the President.
How about fatigue with illiberal, Democratic policies in general?
Politico offered a better, more sobering analysis, which focused not just on the distressingly low Democratic turnout, but the unpopularity of the O’Malley Administration:
The Harvard Law graduate and Iraq War veteran proved to be an uninspiring candidate, tied to an incumbent governor with sinking popularity and a slew of increasingly unpopular tax hikes. In the final month of the election, Democrats admit Brown often seemed to have no message beyond bashing Hogan.
Final Election Results (Red = Hogan Gains)
Then came Hogan’s campaign:
Hogan took advantage of Brown’s weak campaign and favorable environment, focusing on taxes and the economy and often responding to questions about social issues with a quick retort: “We’re not here to talk about that.”
Of course, Hogan was not focusing on fiscal issues just for one campaign. He had run for Congress before to unseat former Democratic majority leader Steny Hoyer, the closest challenge that the minority whip had faced in his career. He also started a citizen group Change Maryland to bring down O’Malley and his tax-and-spendthrift political culture. Politico described this grassroots movement:
An anti-O’Malley clearinghouse, issuing press releases pestering the administration and organizing conservative Democrats, independents and Republicans frustrated with state government. (The groups has more than 120,000 members on Facebook, compared to just under 60,000 fans for O’Malley.)
In other words, Hogan was Tea Party before there was a Tea Party Movement, and in blue-state Maryland. While Bloomberg’s commentators missed these undercurrents, Politico at least discussed them at length. Whatever one’s take on the Maryland Governor’s race, Hogan won not because he was soft on key issues, but because he hammered the replete, repeated failures of the liberal Democratic government in Annapolis while positioning himself as a tireless reform and advocate for Marylanders.
Governor-Elect Larry Hogan
Arthur Christopher Schaper is a teacher-turned-writer on topics both timeless and timely; political, cultural, and eternal. A life-long Southern California resident, Arthur currently lives in Torrance.
Twitter — @ArthurCSchaper