Maryland Gov Larry Hogan, turning his sights more intensely on his political future with less than two months left in office, will host a pair of major fundraisers Wednesday night as he considers running for president in 2024.
The two-term Republican has campaigned around the country and become a regular presence on television this year as he’s pitched his brand of centrist GOP politics and criticized former President Donald Trump, who kicked off his campaign this month.
While Hogan has repeatedly said he won’t make a decision until after he leaves office Jan. 18, his political fundraising entities have raised “well over $1 million” already, said David Weinman, the executive director of one of those organizations, An America United.
Those funds have allowed the governor to travel, spread his message on a national level and help like-minded Republican candidates, Weinman said. The fundraising total to date includes some of the tickets sold and other donations to the events Wednesday at Maryland Live! Casino in Hanover.
The main party, with more than 1,000 people expected, will benefit An America United, a nonprofit group Hogan started in 2019 and that he has primarily used to advance his messaging nationally. Pitched as a three-hour “celebration” with drinks, dancing and hors d’oeuvres, the event also includes a speech from Hogan. An online invitation shows tickets costing $150 per person and indicates the governor will look back on his eight years in office and “forward to the future.”
Another private fundraiser earlier at the same location will host about 300 people and benefit a relatively new federal political action committee called Better Path Forward PAC, Weinman said.
Unlike the nonprofit An America United, which is not required to publicly disclose donors and spending, the PAC must regularly disclose its finances because it’s registered with the Federal Election Commission as one specifically designed to contribute to different federal candidates.
After its formation a year ago, Better Path Forward PAC has ramped up its fundraising in recent months, pulling in $179,000 as of Oct. 19, according to the most recent public reports. Two-thirds of the 45 individual contributions have come in the form of maximum $5,000 donations and were largely from wealthy political donors and Hogan associates, according to a review of its disclosures.
Of its roughly $43,500 in spending so far, $17,400 went this fall toward the maximum allowable donation of $2,900 each to six congressional candidates. Only one was a Maryland Republican — Yuripzy Morgan, who lost her challenge of Democratic U.S. Rep. John Sarbanes in District 3, which includes the counties of Anne Arundel and Howard and part of Carroll County.
Three others were congressional candidates in New Hampshire — one of the first presidential primary states and where Hogan has made several visits this year. Those candidates ended up losing their primaries to Republicans either endorsed by or who had worked for Trump. The two other recipients were a Rhode Island Republican who went on to lose a U.S. House race and a Colorado Republican who went on to lose his state’s U.S. Senate race.
Democrats ultimately retained control of the U.S. Senate and narrowly lost the U.S. House, defeating wide expectations of Republican dominance during the midterm election. Republicans in Maryland also fared poorly, with Democrats winning control of the statewide offices in Annapolis for the first time in eight years, adding to their margins in the General Assembly and clinching the county executive races that were close contests.
Hogan, both before and after the election, has blamed Trump for the party’s failures and has vowed to prevent the former president from winning the 2024 Republican nomination.
“It’s basically the third election in a row that Donald Trump has cost us the race, and it’s like, you know, three strikes, you’re out,” Hogan said on CNN after Election Day.
Maryland Policy & Politics
Trump has continued to lead polls placing him alongside other potential nominees.
A June survey from Baltimore Sun Media and the University of Baltimore showed Trump as the first choice for 48% of Maryland Republicans compared to the 25% who would support Hogan, though the governor maintained high approval ratings.
Hogan, however, has said there will be a “lane” for anti-Trump Republicans.
“You’ve probably heard of the ‘silent majority.’ Well, Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan believes there’s a new kind of majority fed up with the state of the nation and its politics,” a voice-over says to start a two-minute ad called “Exhausted Majority” that An America United released the same day Democratic President Joe Biden held an election eve rally in Maryland.
The ad features a segment of a speech Hogan gave in New Hampshire in which he targets Biden, who Hogan says “caters to the far left extremes of his party and ... flails from crisis to crisis, showing weakness to the world.”
As if Hogan was campaigning against Biden already, other online ads paid for by An America United show side-by-side images of Hogan and the president while outlining the “Hogan Budget” in Maryland — a tax cut, budget surplus and gas tax holiday — versus a “Biden Budget” of tax increases, a deficit and inflation.
The full scope of An America United’s fundraising and spending is unclear. As a registered 501(c)(4) “social welfare” nonprofit organization under IRS rules, it may engage in some political activity as long as that’s not the organization’s primary activity. Such organizations are often referred to by transparency advocates as “dark money” groups because they do not need to disclose their donors.