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Politics

Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan tells supporters and donors he’s ‘concerned’ about the country but won’t decide on presidential bid until next year

Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan, stopping short of announcing an upcoming run for president or even an exploratory committee, told supporters Wednesday that he’s “never been more concerned about the direction of our nation” and would make a decision about a potential campaign after he leaves office.

“I am not about to give up on the Republican Party or on America. … It’s too important,” Hogan said to a packed crowd of more than 1,300 people at Maryland Live! Casino in Hanover.

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Exactly seven weeks before his eight years in Annapolis will end with Democratic Gov.-elect Wes Moore taking his post, Hogan talked briefly about his accomplishments in office and his electoral success in a state where Democrats outnumber Republicans 2-to-1. Acknowledging there’s been “speculation” about his future, he said he wouldn’t make any decisions now.

“Next year I’m going to sit down and talk to my family and talk to my friends and determine how I can best serve our great nation,” he said.

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In the crowd, his supporters enjoyed food and drinks, watched a few videos about Hogan’s time in office and glanced up as confetti blasted out from the stage after he finished speaking.

Gov. Larry Hogan speaks to the media after making a short speech at his “An America United” fundraising event in The Hall at Maryland Live! Casino. He said, “I’m not about to give up on the Republican Party and Maryland.”

The event was billed as both a “celebration” of his two terms and a pivot to the future for the moderate Republican, who has taken several steps and spoken about a potential challenge to former President Donald Trump for the 2024 GOP nomination.

Hogan has made multiple trips to early voting states such as New Hampshire, Iowa and Nevada, including a recent speech at an annual Republican Jewish Coalition event in Las Vegas, where he was joined by other potential 2024 hopefuls, including former Vice President Mike Pence and former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.

An America United, the nonprofit organization Hogan started that benefited from the funds raised at Wednesday night’s main event, also has routinely promoted the governor — including with a recent two-minute video ad that criticized President Joe Biden, a Democrat.

Hogan also fundraised Wednesday night with about 360 donors for Better Path Forward PAC, a relatively new federal political action committee that he used this fall to contribute to like-minded Republican candidates. All of them lost their primaries or in the Nov. 8 general election.

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The two entities raised a combined $1.2 million from the events Wednesday, said David Weinman, executive director of An America United.

Some of the donors — those to the federal PAC — will be disclosed. But donors to the potentially larger An America United will not. As a registered 501(c)(4) “social welfare organization,” it may engage in some political activity but does not need to report its donors, or even its spending habits, as frequently as PACs.

Hogan, if he chooses to run, will be competing for a divided Republican primary base. A plurality of those voters say they want Trump to be the party’s nominee for a third time, according to polls.

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But Hogan has said there will be room for an anti-Trump option. A common refrain from his recent speeches and television appearances is that Trump’s leadership has produced only consistent losses for the party.

Still, the deep fracture in the party was evident just weeks ago in Maryland, when the Republican nominee to succeed Hogan lost in a landslide. In his concession statement, Dan Cox not only thanked Trump but also called Hogan’s lack of support in the race “disqualifying” regarding the governor holding future office as a Republican. Hogan had refused to support Cox, who embraced more conservative policies and tried to impeach Hogan over his handling of the coronavirus pandemic.

Speaking with reporters after his speech Wednesday, Hogan said he had “no real time frame” for making a decision but was excited about the money raised and the turnout for his events this week.

“There’s an awful lot of people asking us to consider the possibility of a continuation of politics,” he said.


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