Gov. Larry Hogan announced Saturday he will not be challenging President Donald Trump in a Republican primary in the 2020 election.
Gov. Larry Hogan was smart to listen to his wife, First Lady Yumi Hogan, when she counseled him against running against President Donald Trump in the 2020 GOP primary. Having a popular, sensible, moderate governor in the race might have been good for the republic as a tonic to the caustic, frenetic, mercurial and narcissistic politics being played by the incumbent, but given Mr. Trump's stranglehold on Republican voters and his penchant for nastiness, it almost certainly wouldn't have been good for Mr. Hogan or his family. And to the extent that a quest for GOP primary votes might have altered the way Mr. Hogan governs, it could have been terrible for Maryland.
But Mr. Hogan says he wants to stay involved in national Republican politics with a new organization focused on reducing the partisan divide in the country, and we think he has real potential there. To be successful, he needs to do more than champion civility in politics; he needs to move the national conversation toward areas where Republicans and Democrats can compromise for the good of the country. We're not so sure that the issue he's specifically mentioned as a focus for his newly created An America United is the right one — his record on infrastructure is not particularly remarkable or bipartisan — but we can think of three others on which he could have something significant to contribute.
For the last decade, the only thing the national Republican Party has stood for when it comes to Health Care is repealing the Affordable Care Act — despite the fact that it was based almost entirely on what were once Republican ideas. With the Democratic Party now fixated on debating the creation of some variant on Medicare for all, Mr. Hogan could be an able spokesman for the conservative idea of making our existing health care system work better rather than throwing it out and starting from scratch.
Maryland's expanded Medicare waiver will help make health care in the state more effective and more affordable. Other states should follow its lead.
In heavily Democratic Maryland, railing against Obamacare was never a viable political strategy, but Mr. Hogan did quite a bit more than just keeping quiet about it. He worked with Democratsand the Trump administration to create a reinsurance pool that has driven premiums on the state's ACA exchange down the last two years — and he agreed to new state taxes to fund it. But what's more impressive is his administration's work to renew and expand the revolutionary new Medicare waiver former Gov. Martin O'Malley's administration negotiated with the Obama administration. The global budgeting system Maryland adopted upends the incentives in our health care system from providing more services to providing better health outcomes. The initial version covered only inpatient hospital care, but based on its success, Mr. Hogan expanded it to include doctors and outpatient care facilities. He should be telling that story of improving health outcomes and reduced costs to a national audience.
His administration has moved forward with plans for offshore wind turbines on the Atlantic Coast, and Mr. Hogan publicly supported a ban on hydraulic fracturing in Maryland. Because Republican Party leaders have long disputed the idea of climate change — with President Trump famously calling it a Chinese hoax — there has been a real vacuum of conservative ideas for addressing it in the public debate. Market-based incentives for clean power, energy efficiency and other means to reduce emissions have promise and could attract strong Democratic support, if Republicans embraced them. Mr. Hogan could help.
Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan and former California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger headlined a rally Tuesday outside the U.S. Supreme Court as they seek to “terminate” the practice of political parties crafting congressional districts that unfairly benefit one party over another. (Jeff Barker/Baltimore Sun video)
In the cynical, winner-take-all atmosphere of national Republican politics — a place where Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell evidently feels no embarrassment for refusing to so much as hold a hearing for a Supreme Court nominee during the last year of Barack Obama's presidency while saying he would happily do so should a vacancy occur during the final year of Mr. Trump's term — Mr. Hogan's opposition to gerrymandering stands out.
To be sure, ending gerrymandering in Maryland would work slightly to his party's favor — perhaps allowing it to pick up one and maybe two seats here — but doing so nationally would hurt his party much more. Mr. Hogan has so far been unable to shame Maryland Democrats into doing something about our exquisitely gerrymandered congressional districts, but he might get more traction by preaching about the evils of the practice in red states.