We wish Gov. Larry Hogan a speedy recovery from the lymphoma with which he was recently diagnosed. Though his cancer is eminently treatable, his chemotherapy will no doubt present a trying time for his family and friends, and our hearts go out to them. The news also comes as a shock to Marylanders who were just growing accustomed to his leadership and who will no doubt have worries about whether the governor's illness will impede his administration's ability to handle an array of major issues before it. To those concerns, we offer the reassurance that Mr. Hogan selected his running mate, Lt. Gov. Boyd G. Rutherford, based on competence and not political expediency. Should Mr. Hogan be forced to take a leave of absence, the state will remain in good hands.
The timing of the announcement is unfortunate in that Mr. Hogan, a novice elected official, has shown signs of growing into the role for which voters selected him. During the early days of his administration, Mr. Hogan swung between the kind of unifying rhetoric he displayed during his inaugural address and the divisively partisan words he used in his State of the State speech, and he alternated between deft compromise on things like the stormwater management fees and head-scratching actions like his decision not to spend money legislators had set aside for schools.
But he showed real leadership during the Baltimore riots in late April, striking an inclusive and calming tone. His decision not to engage with Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake, who has recently taken to sniping at him, is a sign of growing maturity in his role.
Mr. Hogan insists that he will keep working throughout his treatment, and we have no question about his resolve. He said during his news conference to announce his illness that he is a fighter, and there's no doubt that's true. Though he was emotional at times during his remarks, the governor also displayed a considerable sense of humor — for example joking that his odds of beating cancer are far better than his odds were of beating Anthony Brown in last year's election. But chemotherapy is grueling under the best of circumstances, and Mr. Hogan's cancer is fairly advanced and will necessitate aggressive treatment. We certainly hope he's right that he will be able to maintain a substantial workload, but we would not be surprised if Mr. Rutherford will wind up filling in more than the governor is now predicting.
If so, Marylanders shouldn't worry about having a steady hand leading state government. Mr. Rutherford has extensive experience as an administrator in the state and federal governments and is probably better equipped to handle the day-to-day management duties of the chief executive than many people who actually have been governor. Mr. Hogan's chief of staff, Craig Williams, also brings strong experience from the Ehrlich administration.
For all his talents, though, Mr. Rutherford is not the kind of gregarious political leader Mr. Hogan is. Lieutenant governor is the first elected office he has ever run for, and it took some convincing. Although Mr. Hogan has never held elective office before, he grew up in a political family and displays the kind of love for retail politics that can serve a governor so well. His human touch was certainly on display today in his ability to make light of what will be one of the biggest challenges of his life and to connect his experience with those of millions of others who face cancer. He said he wants his transparency about his illness to help foster greater understanding of cancer among the public, and we expect that if he can maintain the kind of good spirits he displayed today , he can serve as an inspiration to many.
Mr. Hogan says he's awaiting tests to determine just how advanced his cancer is, but his doctors think it is either stage three or stage four. Although he said he is experiencing few symptoms, it has spread throughout his body. But it is beatable, particularly given the tremendous health care resources this region has to offer. As he attacks this challenge, Mr. Hogan should know that the entire state — those who support him politically and those who don't — is pulling for him.