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Hogan promises bi-partisan administration

A relaxed and joking Republican Gov.-elect Larry Hogan told reporters Wednesday he would create a bi-partisan administration and credited his upset win to listening to voter frustration.

"It doesn't matter to me if someone is a Republican or a Democrat, I'm going to be the governor for all Marylanders," he said. "This victory was not a partisan one."

Hogan, only the second Republican to be elected Maryland's governor since Spiro Agnew in 1966. declined to discuss his policy plans for the future. But he did name his running mate Boyd Rutherford and James T. Brady co-chairs of his transition team.

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In his first remarks since his election night acceptance speech, Hogan raised the same points that formed the cornerstone of his more than 4-point victory over Democratic Lt. Gov. Anthony G. Brown.

"Our state economy is in real trouble," Hogan said. "We're going to get to work turning our state around."

Hogan promised to curb state spending and roll back tax and fee increases passed under the O'Malley adminstration, but he again declined Wednesday to say which he would target first.

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Hogan said his win was widely considered unexpected, in part, because talking heads missed the widespread voter anxiety and fear over the economy that his campaign addressed.
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"The polls and the pundits and the media seem to talk to each other. It's sort of like an echo chamber," Hogan said. "I was talking to Marylanders. ... What we were hearing, everywhere, was an overwhelming sense of frustration. People felt a huge disconnect between Annapolis and the rest of Maryland.
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"Every single day, every where we went, people were coming up to me and Boyd repeatedly  and saying, 'We're life-long Democrats, but we're voting for you. We've never voted for a Republican in our life.' "

Hogan said he spoke Wednesday morning with Maryland's top Democrats, who Hogan said promised to work with him.

Hogan said Gov. Martin O'Malley called to invite Hogan and his family to tour the governor's mansion. Hogan said both House Speaker Michael E. Busch and Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller "congratulated me and I think sincerely offered to work as closely as they could with us in a bipartisan fashion."

Hogan said his campaign "set vote goals that were nearly impossible to attain. We blew past every one of them."

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He called his victory "the biggest mandate for change" since Theodore McKeldin in 1951. Maryland's last Republican governor, Robert L. Ehrlich Jr., won election by 3.9 percentage points. With 99.7 percent of precincts reporting Wednesday morning, Hogan beat Brown by 4.65 points.

Hogan said that on election night, "we waited around for quite a while, actually," expecting a concession call from Brown.

Maryland Republicans also picked up several seats in the General Assembly. While it is not enough to prevent the legislature from overriding vetos, Hogan said it would help his bi-partisan mission.

U.S. Rep. Andy Harris, an Eastern Shore Republican, said he thought the margin would help Hogan sustain his vetoes since he would need only 12 Democrats in the House to stop a veto override.

"That's a big difference from the previous administration," Harris said, referring to the Democratic-led legislature's frequent override of Ehrlich's veto power. "I think there's more leverage over the legislature, and I think the legislature will need to pay more attention to whether the governor will veto a bill."

Hogan's takeover of the state's top job will be coordinated by Rutherford, who served as secretary of general services under Ehrlich, and Brady, who led both Ehrlich's and Gov. Parris Glendening's transition teams.

Brady, 74, is a board member of several Maryland corporations, including T. Rowe Price, and was the secretary of business and economic development in Glendening's first term.

Brady declined to say whom he had in mind to help develop Hogan's budget, which must be completed before he takes office the beginning of next year.

"I've already come across a lot of people who consider me their best friends, who I don't even know," joked Brady. "Democrats are very welcome to be a part of this process. Independents are welcome. This is not an ah-ha moment, where we're in charge and you're not."

Hogan also declined to answer questions about what he would do with the Maryland Health Benefit Exchange nor with funding for the Purple Line, a project championed by Brown that Hogan called too costly to build right now.

Hogan said that although he was optimistic he would win, "It still was kind of shock when the state troopers showed up at our hotel and said, 'We're here to protect you, governor elect.'  My wife and I, we got about an hour's sleep last night, but this morning we looked at each other. I said, 'Good morning, first lady.' She said, 'Good morning, governor.' It was an interesting feeling."

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