If early signs are any indication, GOP gubernatorial nominee Larry Hogan is going to be skillful at neutralizing the Republicans’ disadvantage on social issues in Maryland. Here’s the Baltimore Sun’s new editorial on the Michael Peroutka embarrassment:
Mr. Hogan is probably looking the best of anyone associated with this Anne Arundel oddity. Plenty of Democrats have disavowed Mr. Peroutka, too, but that’s a pretty easy call from that side of the political spectrum. Mr. Hogan, who has tried to keep a laser-like focus on matters of taxes and spending in his campaign, obviously saw no reason to be associated with secessionists.
A pattern is beginning to emerge here, no? Shortly after the primary, Hogan noted that the voters of the state had spoken on same-sex marriage — not a comment you would have heard from many other high-profile Maryland Republicans these days. Not long after, Hogan neatly sidestepped the Democrats’ Hobby Lobby agitation by noting that the ruling “doesn’t really have anything to do with being Maryland governor.” (As one who believes the Supreme Court correctly interpreted existing federal law in Hobby Lobby, I think this response was exactly the right one to give.)
The pattern, if I’m reading it correctly, is that Hogan intends to jettison the baggage of unpopular, irrelevant, or simply wrong MD-GOP positions on distracting social issues, the better to focus a campaign on the kind of Republican appeal that can make inroads even in a relatively liberal, increasingly Northeastern state like Maryland. That appeal emphasizes competence, independence from special interests as embodied in the ruling Democratic machine, and above all the failure of the high-overhead, regulation-intensive, small-business-unfriendly, tax-and-spend economics associated with Martin O’Malley and Anthony Brown.
I believe that’s a message that can resonate not only in areas where Republicans have traditionally done well, but also in parts of the state like Montgomery and Howard counties where it’s been harder for the GOP to get a fair hearing.
More of this, please.