Larry Hogan starts his "thank you" voters tour in the Leonardtown, MD. annual Veterans Day parade
Gov.-elect Larry Hogan said he will wait until after his inauguration next year to discuss policy plans for his new administration.
Until then, he said, advocates can continue to wonder about the specifics.
"They should keep on guessing because I'm going to be governor on Jan. 21, and we'll start talking about policy then," Hogan said Tuesday at his first public appearance insix days. "In the meantime, we're going to put our transition team together."
Hogan's upset win last week over Democratic Lt. Gov. Anthony G. Brown invigorated fellow Republicans and others who believe Maryland's tax burden has grown too heavy.
His focus on economic issues during the campaign, however, left unclear precisely where Hogan stands on many other issues that cross a governor's desk.
As he enjoyed a warm welcome at a Veterans Day parade in St. Mary's County on Tuesday, Hogan's unwillingness to discuss specifics underscored the big question marks ahead for state government. The transition from a Democratic administration, which had laid out policies for an expected next term, to a Republican one changes the tenor in Annapolis.
"It's not a transition from [Gov. Martin] O'Malley to Brown, which would be relatively easy," said Republican Del. Tony O'Donnell, a former House minority leader. "This is a significant change. It's not going to be all the same players, so it will take some time."
O'Donnell predicted that Hogan's administration would be slow to deliver policy proposals in its first year, as the new governor works with a legislature that is experiencing unusually high turnover. A full third of the House of Delegates will be new to Annapolis next year.
There will be "a lot of setting the tone," O'Donnell said. "We should not expect everything to change overnight."
Advocates for health care policy, mass transit and tax reform are waiting to see what Hogan will put on his agenda — and what he might cut.
Hogan said he plans to spend the next 21/2 months putting together a government in a careful and deliberate way.
"It's an overwhelming kind of challenge that's ahead of us. The magnitude of it is something that's hard to grasp," Hogan said.
Hogan is meeting for breakfast Wednesday morning with Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller, aides said.
While Hogan has said he sees his election as a mandate to cut taxes and curb spending, he has not said which taxes he would target first.
On the campaign trail, Hogan said the state's corporate income tax rate should be cut from 8.25 to 6 percent, but he hasn't said when or how quickly. He identified the stormwater management fee, derided by critics as the "rain tax," as an early target for repeal, but he hasn't offered details. He told retirees he would eliminate the tax on retirement income, but later said that was more of an aspirational goal and didn't specify when he would cut it.
The fogginess of Hogan's plans has left room for speculation. House Minority Leader Nic Kipke, an Anne Arundel County Republican, said he expects the new administration to press for an income tax cut.
During the campaign, Hogan said he did not think the state could afford the proposed Red Line in Baltimore and the Purple Line in the Washington suburbs. Since his election, Hogan has declined to say whether he plans to pay the state's share of the light rail projects.
He also hasn't said whether he supports changes to Maryland's health exchange, such as moving the insurance website to the federal portal or scaling back the state's expansion of Medicaid.
Almost 377,000 people were added to the Medicaid rolls in the past year, and about 81,000 more bought private plans through the Maryland health exchange.
The governor's appointments could eventually fill nearly every seat on the health exchange board.
"What we were doing and what [Ehrlich] was doing was asking a lot of questions," Flanagan said.
"People have to understand ... how big a responsibility it is to become ready to take over state government," he said. "It is not appropriate to engage Governor Hogan in debate at this time, and he's wise to avoid it."
Since Hogan's 5-point win over Brown last week, considered one of the biggest political upsets of the 2014 midterms, the governor-elect has spent most of his time holed up at his Annapolis campaign office preparing to build a government.
Tuesday marked the first stop on a "thank-you tour" that aides say will take him to every jurisdiction in the state.
Baltimore County Councilman David Marks posted on Facebook to expect Hogan's tour in Perry Hall on Thursday afternoon, but Hogan's spokesman did not respond to a request to confirm the event.
Hogan jogged the route of the St. Mary's Veterans Day parade Tuesday morning in Leonardtown, crisscrossing the street to shake hands with cheering fans. Hogan won St. Mary's County by a margin of almost 48 percentage points.
"We expect a whole lot," one woman told him. A man shouted, "Winner, winner, chicken dinner!"
Karen Lowry yelled, "Yay! This is the first time my vote counted."
Hogan ran over to shake her hand.
Joe Webb, 45, ran up to Hogan and insisted he sign his T-shirt.
"Anywhere you want!" Webb told Hogan, who scribbled his signature on Webb's shoulder.
"He seems like a genuine guy," said Webb, who said he is a registered Democrat but voted for Hogan. "We just pray that he can lift up Maryland and maybe even become president. I wish I had a 'Hogan for president' shirt."
Hogan worked up a sweat greeting supporters and put on a new shirt after he finished the parade route. He said he did not know where his "thank-you tour" would go next, but he promised he would spend his entire term thanking voters.
Hogan said voters and supporters he met along the parade route know what he stands for.
"There aren't too many tough questions at this point," Hogan said. "They're just excited. They know what we're going to do."
Baltimore Sun reporter Meredith Cohn contributed to this article.