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Gov. Larry Hogan, Annapolis leaders praise new Baltimore mayor

Gov. Larry Hogan, speaking at Mayor Catherine Pugh's inaugural ceremony, said they have a "shared vision" for the city. (Baltimore Sun video)

Republican Gov. Larry Hogan on Tuesday delivered an emphatic endorsement of Baltimore's new Democratic Mayor Catherine Pugh, praising her relentless energy and saying the pair "have a shared purpose and share a commitment" to improve the city.

"This morning, I am incredibly hopeful about the future," Hogan said during brief remarks at her inauguration ceremony. "Mayor Pugh and I have a shared vision for Baltimore."

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The warmth — forged during Pugh's time as Maryland Senate majority leader — is a departure from the at-times frosty relationship between Hogan and outgoing Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake.

Hogan called Pugh's inauguration a "very important day for Baltimore" and suggested her administration would better weather problems that beleaguer the city. He said they both want to eliminate disparities, raze dilapidated houses and invigorate the city's economy.

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"Baltimore has endured through some difficult times," he said. "But it is when the challenges are greatest that effective leadership is needed the most."

From the stage, Pugh reciprocated Hogan's promise to work together, turning from the crowd to directly address just him minutes after taking the oath of office. She politely demanded a favor.

"I want you to know that you do have a partner, as the next mayor of Baltimore," Pugh told him. "I already prepared my letter for you to go with me to Washington, D.C., to deliver to the next president."

Pugh said she wanted Hogan to help her convince Republican president-elect Donald Trump that when he delivers on a campaign promise to invest in decaying urban infrastructure, that he heavily invest in Baltimore.

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The exchange, plus the bi-partisan spread of elected officials sharing a stage at the War Memorial ceremony, highlighted the incoming mayor's pragmatism and relationships cemented over two decades in public office.

Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller, a Democrat and Hogan ally, said in an interview that Pugh ignored the advice of many in Annapolis to put distance between herself and the popular Republican governor.

Pugh had Hogan, Miller and House Speaker Michael E. Busch give remarks at her inauguration. She takes office, Miller said, well-positioned to direct state resources into Baltimore.

"She knows the levers to pull in Annapolis. She's very close the Speaker of the House, and she's extremely close to myself," said Miller, his cheek wet from a tear shed during the ceremony. "She didn't cry, but I did," he said.

Busch said Pugh was part of a powerful Baltimore lobby in Annapolis that made sure the city "got its fair share." As mayor, "she's going to hit the ground running, because we have a good cooperative relationship," Busch said.

Pugh's connection to state government are unique, said former Gov. Martin O'Malley, also a former Baltimore mayor.

"That should be a plus for her," O'Malley said.

The former governor said Pugh's drive and enthusiasm will be crucial to the city's success.

"She's enthusiastic. She's like a one-person marching band in promotion of the city," O'Malley said. "That's a big part of what it means to be mayor. If the mayor doesn't believe, no one else believes."

Hogan called Pugh a "fierce advocate" and said he had "no doubt that she will work tirelessly to address the problems facing Baltimore and to revitalize this great city."

The governor also invoked his own "Change Maryland" campaign slogan in promising to work with Pugh.

"With a renewed partnership between the governor's office in Annapolis and the leadership in the city of Baltimore," Hogan said, "we can truly change Baltimore and Maryland for the better."

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