Republican Larry Hogan opened his gubernatorial campaign headquarters in Annapolis Friday night by reminiscing with his former boss, former Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich.
Ehrlich said he and Hogan met decades ago campaigning for Hogan’s father, former Congressman Lawrence J. Hogan, “and then we went to the Republican convention to meet girls.”
He said he called Hogan out of retirement to work for him in 2002 because Hogan could work well with Democrats. Ehrlich joked that Friday night’s event “was a like a reunion of the cabinet,” since Hogan was his appointments secretary and Hogan’s running mate, Boyd Rutherford, was a secretary of general services.
On a more serious note, Ehrlich said that “money’s really tight” in the campaign and urged supporters to volunteer as much as possible. “Everyone knows it’s a tough race,” he said.
Hogan plans to participate in Maryland’s public campaign financing program, which matches low-dollar donations with public funds and until this year had not been used for more than two decades.
During the event, which drew dozens of people to an Annapolis office park, the former governor signed copies of his most recent book, “America: Hope for Change,” and posed for V.I.P pictures with Hogan donors who were willing to pay $250 for the honor.
Ehrlich, however, did not endorse Hogan.
A recent Baltimore Sun poll found Hogan was the front-runner for the Republican nomination, although the vast majority of voters had not settled on a candidate.
Hogan said that he received more than 400 donors in the first three weeks of his campaign, surpassing his goal, and that his political organization Change Maryland got another 4,000 “likes” Facebook, bringing his total tally to 79,000.
Hogan called it “tremendous momentum” during brief remarks and pointed out other candidates have been running for more than a year and doing worse than him in the polls.
Rutherford, who oversaw procurement in the Ehrlich administration, took a swipe at the state’s glitch-ridden health exchange, which he called “pure incompetence.” He questioned the alternative process used to pick the main contractor in charge of the site.
The health exchange uses a novel process to award contracts outside of the state’s normal process, a procedure that allowed it to more quickly vet and hire companies to build the exchange in the short time frame necessary.
Hogan said that if elected, he would change that.
Republican Harford County Executive David R. Craig is also seeking the nomination. So is Del. Ron George of Anne Arundel County and Charles Lollar, a business executive from Charles County. Both George and Lollar have yet to name running mates in the race, but plan to do so early next week in advance of Tuesday’s filing deadline.