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Who can forget the children's story of the little engine that could? The small train engine pressed into service on an emergency basis kept telling itself, "I think I can" over and over again in the struggle to climb the big hill.

That story encapsulates the campaign we just experienced with Republicans Larry Hogan and Boyd Rutherford winning the election for governor and lieutenant governor. They believed in themselves and their message when few in the GOP thought there was any shot at victory.

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Maryland is about as blue a state as exists in the nation. Our voter registration is two to one in favor of the Democratic Party. We rarely select a Republican as governor. When we do, it is usually a very strong GOP candidate taking on a particularly weak Democratic candidate.

On paper, one wouldn't assume Larry Hogan would be a giant slayer. He's never won a race for political office. In contrast, in 2002 then Representative Robert Ehrlich had never lost a campaign, either at the delegate level or the congressional level.

On paper, one would assume that current Lt. Gov. Anthony Brown would have the wind at his back. He had been elected a delegate from Prince George's County. He had a huge advantage in the amount of money available to spend.

In the end, Hogan won by a rather respectable margin of more than 76,000 votes. This was an even larger victory than Ehrlich had in his 2002 over then Lt. Gov. Kathleen Townsend.

Earlier this week, Sen. Joseph Getty was the featured speaker at the South Carroll Republican Club. There are a couple of standard features of a Getty presentation.

You know there's going to be multiple paper handouts. You know there will be numbers in the handouts. The audience will inevitably hear fresh analysis from the state senator from District 5. There's also going to be insider details not readily available from other sources.

Getty's package of handouts included a ranking of percentage turnout among Maryland counties. Turning out one's base vote is always huge in an election. The three lowest performing jurisdictions in the 2014 election were Baltimore City, Prince George's County and Montgomery County. The poor turnout in counties that traditionally supply major vote totals to Democratic candidates shed light onto Brown's loss.

The three highest percentage turnout jurisdictions were all on the Eastern Shore. Hogan did very well as a percentage of votes in all three of those counties. However, these counties are all relatively small in their population. The fourth highest turnout county was Carroll.

We also held the distinction of highest percent vote for Hogan at 82 percent. This was higher even than Ehrlich's percentage here in 2002.

After his presentation, Getty took questions from the audience. One person asked how much the national wave favoring Republicans this year impacted the Hogan vs. Brown race. Getty suggested this was a contributing factor to the GOP win in Maryland.

Hogan and his campaign team deserve huge credit for the win. From the very beginning he focused on a very simple message of focusing on jobs, rolling back the last eight years of tax hikes and success for middle class families.

Brown's campaign, in contrast, spent huge amounts of money on negative television ads hammering Hogan in ways that had to seem odd to many voters. It seems likely that these ads had the impact of raising Hogan's name identification and lowering both candidates' approval.

Getty was also asked about coattail effects that Hogan's campaign had this year in the General Assembly. He seemed pleased to report that despite redistricting the General Assembly map two years ago in a way designed to hurt Republicans, GOP candidates in the Senate gained a net two seats. In the House of Delegates the net pick up was seven seats.

Let's all hope that divided government in Maryland works out the next four years. I believe we will all benefit from cooperation between the new Hogan-Rutherford administration and the new General Assembly.

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Michael Zimmer writes from Eldersburg. His column appears on Fridays. Email him at zimlaw64@gmail.com.

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