Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan denies that he would ever endorse fellow Republican John Grasso, an Anne Arundel County Councilman running for state senate who made headlines this week for posting anti-Muslim material on his Facebook page.
So how did an endorsement from the incumbent governor — along with a positive quote about Grasso — appear on Grasso’s campaign materials?
Fliers featuring a large photo of Hogan state that he supports Grasso and a slate of three House of Delegates’ candidates in Anne Arundel’s District 32. The mailers even include a quote from the governor that calls the four candidates “exactly the type of leaders we need in Annapolis,” mentioning Grasso by name.
But after public outcry this week over Grasso’s anti-Muslim posts, Hogan’s campaign said he never endorsed Grasso and would never endorse him. A Hogan campaign spokesman pointed out that Grasso openly mulled a primary challenge to the governor.
The Hogan campaign supplied emails to The Sun that showed the governor agreed to endorse the three delegates in the race. The emails say nothing of Grasso.
Republican Del. Nic Kipke of Anne Arundel, the minority leader in the House of Delegates, backed that account. Kipke said he asked Hogan to endorse the three delegates but not Grasso. Kipke said the Grasso campaign added Grasso to the materials without the governor’s knowledge.
Grasso did not respond to a request from The Sun for comment, but he posted to Facebook that he was removing claims of Hogan’s endorsement from his campaign materials.
“I was informed that I do not have the support of Governor Hogan. I am disappointed by this,” Grasso wrote. “An earlier version of a palm card stated that I had Governor Hogan's support. At the time, I thought this to be accurate. Going forward, however, my literature will reflect the current status quo.”
Even though Hogan is not endorsing Grasso, Democrats argued the Republican governor has not done enough to condemn the councilman’s Facebook posts. One said, “One nation under God, Not Allah. America is not a Muslim nation. America is not an Islamic nation. America is a Christian nation.”
"Until Larry Hogan disavows Grasso's comments and explains why he refused to stand up to Trump's Muslim ban, then it really doesn't matter how his quote made it on this piece,” said Kevin Harris, a senior adviser to Democrat Ben Jealous, who is running against Hogan for governor. “The real issue here is that Larry Hogan never wants to take accountability for his actual record. We've seen this same pattern before, when Hogan takes contributions from the NRA then tries to distance himself from the organization, or when he tells voters he invested record funding in education despite the fact he attempted to cut education spending and has allowed our schools to go underfunded."
Hogan campaign spokesman Scott Sloofman said, “The governor has consistently stood up and spoken out against hate of all kinds and will continue to do so.”