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Hogan: Party loyalty can demand too much [Commentary]

As I've traversed the state of Maryland, I've learned that effective campaigning means clearly and honestly explaining to voters how your decisions in office would be better than those of your opponent.

For Lt. Gov. Anthony Brown, however, campaigning involves dodging accountability, remaining invisible on the campaign trail and hiding behind wildly off-base and false attack ads.

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Lieutenant Governor Brown is unable to defend his eight-year record of failure. He continues to try to distract voters by lying about my stances on long-settled issues, including abortion rights and gun laws.

The only thing his campaign has to offer is fear.

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This election is about jobs, the economy and middle-class families — and just about everyone but the lieutenant governor knows it.

Lieutenant Governor Brown has been in charge of economic development efforts. However, his record is just too damning for him to discuss — and Marylanders are fed up.

After all, they had to pick up the $288,337,000 tab for the lieutenant governor's health care exchange debacle.

They suffered under the yoke of 40 consecutive O'Malley-Brown tax hikes — including a higher gas tax, higher commuter taxes through tolls and a new tax on the rain.

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They paid the bill as the O'Malley-Brown administration increased state spending by $10 billion.

They saw 31,000 of their neighbors flee the state as unemployment doubled and thousands of small businesses closed their doors over the last eight years.

They watched the state's economic ranking topple to 49th out of 50 states.

They're facing a $405 million projected state revenue shortfall.

As the O'Malley-Brown administration blithely claimed to be "moving Maryland forward," many Maryland families slid precariously backward because of lost jobs, increased spending and higher taxes.

It's not just bank accounts that have been affected. The very core of our society and the family is weakened by an ever-weakening economy. Studies show that when unemployment goes up, so do domestic violence and drug abuse.

Our state is now in the throes of a heroin epidemic. Between 2011 and 2013, the number of heroin-related deaths in Maryland increased 87.8 percent.

Maryland now has the third-highest food stamp registration rate in the U.S. and is number three in the nation in foreclosures.

This summer, a Gallup poll found that 47 percent of Marylanders would relocate to another state if they could.

I don't want people to leave Maryland. I want to fight for it because this is a great state and this is a fight worth fighting.

I am running for governor to bring real change — not the false change we would get by promoting the lieutenant governor to his boss' job.

For me, real change in our state starts by changing Maryland's reputation as a business-unfriendly state. According to different rankings, Maryland's business climate ranks 41st out of 50 states. Only four Fortune 500 companies call Maryland home (compared to 23 in Virginia).

Change also starts by making Maryland's tax structure more competitive with other states. This includes both personal and corporate taxes. We don't have to have the lowest taxes in the country, but we certainly can't afford to have the highest.

I'm a businessman, not a politician. My running mate, Boyd Rutherford, and I will put our private sector experience to work building a state business climate that will attract jobs and companies from across the country.

John F. Kennedy once said, "Sometimes, party loyalty demands too much." I've heard similar sentiments from Democrats on the campaign trail. They won't vote for a candidate they don't have faith in just because he has a "D" next to his name.

Forty years ago, my father, Congressman Larry Hogan Sr., served on the House Judiciary Committee, where he became the only Republican to vote for all three Articles of Impeachment against President Richard Nixon.

He put doing the right thing ahead of his own personal political considerations.

That is the kind of integrity-driven, independent-minded leadership I will bring to the governor's office.

The O'Malley-Brown administration failed to "move Maryland forward." It's time for the citizens of Maryland to join together and take our government back.

Larry Hogan is the Republican nominee for governor. He is a former state cabinet secretary, chairman of Change Maryland and the founder and CEO of the Annapolis-based Hogan Companies. He can be reached at info@hoganforgovernor.com.

To respond to this commentary, send an email to talkback@baltimoresun.com. Please include your name and contact information.

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