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Shoemaker: Hogan’s performance — on coronavirus, Trump and more — is trending down | COMMENTARY

A few weeks ago, I wrote a column that was critical of the governor’s handling of Maryland’s response to the pandemic. I had some concerns about being so candid until my critique began getting panned by ultra-liberals like Dean Minnich and Bobby Wack. When they weighed in against me, I knew I was right.

And nothing that Gov. Larry Hogan has done since I wrote that piece has caused me to rethink the position that I took. His bashing of President Trump and his threatening to sic the health department on bars and restaurant owners, many of whom are already on the brink of collapse, is over the top; and he’s essentially setting the stage for another lockdown.

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Furthermore, his refusal to stand up to teachers unions and say definitively that distance learning has been a disaster for our students (particularly the poor) and that we must have in-person education has been disappointing at best. From what we know presently, students are less apt to suffer severe effects, including death, from the virus. For those interested in hearing from scientists, the American Academy of Pediatrics has endorsed getting students back in school where they can actually learn. Not surprisingly, the major opponents to getting back to normal comes from the teachers union, which wants its rank-and-file to sit at home and collect a check while parents struggle to find daycare and make a living. Instead of saying things like “We won’t be rushed into reopening schools,” Hogan should say that schools must either reopen in the fall, or educators will be facing furloughs.

Having said that, the governor deserves accolades for following the president’s lead and directing the State Board of Elections to provide a mechanism for in-person voting in November. Notwithstanding the virus, if we can congregate at the Walmart, we can vote in person if people are so inclined. Relying exclusively on mail-in voting is a recipe for fraud. There are documented instances of tampering with mail-in ballots from New Jersey, West Virginia, and other places. Here in Maryland, I know of folks who received ballots who haven’t lived in the state for years. Furthermore, the Baltimore primary was a trainwreck. The in-person option is the only way to ensure that the outcome of the election has a circumstantial degree of trustworthiness. Kudos to the governor on that one.

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Where I will part company with him again is on some of his comments and actions over the past several days. And since he is quick to dish out criticism, it’s time for him to take some.

Hogan is known for self-promotion. Here lately, he’s turned it up several notches. Recently, he commented that the Republican Party should be a “big tent.” If he meant that the GOP should be more welcoming to gays, minorities and others, and perhaps tone down the rhetoric a bit, I could agree with that. But that’s not what he meant. He means that the Republican Party should become the “Democrat-Lite Party” and essentially abandon conservative principles like he has, by and large.

We tried that with John McCain and Mitt Romney, and that didn’t work out particularly well. The Republican Party should provide a stark contrast to the Democrats. It should advocate for personal freedoms, smaller government, minimal taxes, reduced regulations and accountability. If folks’ only choice is between a Democrat and a Democrat-Lite like Larry Hogan, why the heck wouldn’t they just vote for the Democrat?

And then there is his constant criticism of the president. Face facts, Governor, it is unseemly for you to criticize the president about COVID-19 testing when you spent $9 million of the taxpayers’ money on incomplete South Korean tests even though when you could’ve purchased complete FDA approved tests for two-thirds of the price of the South Korean tests. The Washington Post and Jayne Miller of WBAL-TV are all over this debacle, and there will be more to come. In essence, Hogan took a victory lap for buying test kits from South Korea that weren’t worth a tinker’s damn.

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Also, Hogan persists in criticizing the president at every turn while asking the feds for a $500 billion bailout for liberal states’ reckless spending decisions. Just the other day, speaking to Time, he didn’t rule out voting for Joe Biden. Looks like this will be the second presidential election cycle in a row that he won’t be voting for his party’s nominee. I’m just thinking out loud, but if election after election you have a hard time supporting your party’s standard-bearer, you’re probably in the wrong party.

And now the governor is engaged in more self-promotion while he pushes his book. Unfortunately, the fact-checkers at The Baltimore Sun have discovered that the book is riddled inaccuracies. It should probably be sold in the fiction section of the bookstore.

The bottom line is this: Notwithstanding the four solicitations he’s sent me in the past two days, I’m not spending $27.00 on Larry Hogan’s fiction book; and in 2024, I’m not voting for a fictitious Republican for president of the United States, as I’m looking forward to voting for Nikki Haley, Ron DeSantis, Mike Pence or some other real Republican.

Haven Shoemaker is a member of the Maryland House of Delegates representing District 5. Reach him at haven.shoemaker@house.state.md.us.

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