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Hogan's special inaugural guest: NJ Gov. Chris Christie

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, chairman of the Republican Governor's Association, made his first public appearance Tuesday on behalf of Maryland gubernatorial candidate Larry Hogan.
New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, chairman of the Republican Governor's Association, made his first public appearance Tuesday on behalf of Maryland gubernatorial candidate Larry Hogan. (Barbara Haddock Taylor, Baltimore Sun)

Gov.-elect Larry Hogan picked New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie to introduce him at the inauguration ceremony next month.

Hogan, a Republican, has credited Christie's support through the Republican Governors Association as key to his upset win in November. On election night, Hogan answered a call from Christie while on stage, and Christie offer to fly down from New Jersey to join him.

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Hogan said Christie will be "the only big shot" from out of state taking part in the Jan. 21 inauguration, which begins with a ceremony in Annapolis that morning and ends with a gala in Baltimore that evening.

The Republican Governors Association, chaired by Christie, spent $1.2 million helping Hogan, who relied on public financing. Hogan's 5 percentage-point win in a state where Democrats outnumber Republicans 2 to 1 is been widely considered one the biggest political upsets of the 2014 cycle.

During the campaign, Christie visited Maryland four times on Hogan's behalf, helping the state Republican Party raise cash and headlining a rally two days before Election Day.

Christie is scheduled to introduce Hogan before his formal swearing-in ceremony in Annapolis, Hogan spokeswoman Erin Montgomery said.  It was not clear whether Christie would attend the festivities later in the day, including a VIP reception and formal party at the Baltimore Convention Center.

Hogan said such black-tie affairs often charge between $250 and $1,000, but he wanted to keep it a more low-dollar affair.

"We're charging a hundred bucks," Hogan said. "We're trying to get more people to be able to afford to come."

Hogan, however, considers the party he's throwing three days later on the Eastern Shore to be "the really cool one."

Hogan carried all but three of Maryland's 24 counties, and racked up large margins that toppled the Democratic vote in Baltimore City and Montgomery, Prince George's and Baltimore counties.

The party in Cambridge, Hogan said, was meant for the regular people who elected him.

"Where the waterman and the farmers and the volunteer firemen and those kinds of guys ... we wanted to do something for them. So it's like $25, drink beer, some country music, you know? Maybe oysters and pit beef or something. Wear you jeans. You don't have to put your monkey suit on."

Hogan's father, Lawrence Hogan, Sr., is also expected to play a prominent role in inauguration day, though Hogan may be avoiding eye contact with his dad.  Hogan Sr., left a seat in Congress to run for unsuccessfully run for governor 40 years ago, and his son's accomplishment feels like a family victory, Hogan said.

Hogan said he almost lost his composure while watching his dad on election night.

"He could barely walk because he's got bad knees," Hogan said. "He hobbled across the stage and kissed me and hugged me. It was very hard not to pull a John Boehner and start crying in the middle of my speech. My eyes were getting a little watery, my throat choked up. I had to take a deep breath and then keep talking."

Hogan expects another big emotional challenge later this month, when he becomes only the second Republican inaugurated in Maryland in the last 50 years.

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"He's very emotional about the whole thing. He'll be crying all day on inauguration, I'm sure," Hogan said. "As long as I don't look at him, I might be OK."

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