Republican Larry Hogan's message of relieving the tax stresses on Maryland families, growing business and restoring our economy make him the Carroll County Times' pick in the 2014 gubernatorial race.
The Democratic advantage in the state legislature, combined with a Democratic governor, have limited dialogue on many important issues in recent years.
In his campaign, Hogan has pointed to tax hikes under the O'Malley-Brown administration, continuing unemployment and a difficult business climate as reasons why many families continue to struggle and our economy is lagging. Last month, in writing down expected revenue estimates for 2015 and 2016 by $405 million, Comptroller Peter Franchot said, "It feels like we sit at these meetings every quarter, hopeful and determined that 'next year will be the year' when the recovery takes hold and is felt broadly throughout the economy. Yet, another year has passed, and ordinary families and small businesses haven't even recovered to where they were before the financial collapse, much less made up for the wages they've lost over the past six years. We need to recognize that hope is not an economic strategy."
Hogan has experience in state government, having worked for the Ehrlich-Steele administration, and he is an experienced businessman. But just as important, he will give a voice to some of the Republican ideas – especially in the area of pulling back on state spending growth -- that have languished or been ignored throughout Gov. Martin O'Malley's administration.
Hogan will have many challenges to overcome, and he will have to work out a lot of details concerning just how he will accomplish the lofty goals he has set, such as rolling back some of O'Malley's tax increases and easing some regulatory burdens while protecting the interests of all citizens.
He'll also have to remain true to his word on some hot-button social issues. He's said he isn't interested in revisiting the state's newly enacted gun law, and he said he doesn't want to go back and refight any battles over abortion, birth control or same-sex marriage, all issues that his opponent has attacked him on over the course of the campaign.
Most importantly, though, as Hogan surely remembers from his years under Republican Robert L. Ehrlich Jr., he'll have to work with Democrats and find common ground so as to assure that we can move our state forward.
Hogan in the Governor's Mansion will assure the checks and balances that are needed to ensure the most efficient operation of government.