Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan is set to become the chairman of the bipartisan National Governors Association on Friday — making him the first Maryland governor to hold the post since Parris Glendening.
Hogan, the organization’s current vice chairman, will be elevated to the top leadership position during an afternoon ceremony in Salt Lake City, where the association is holding its summer meeting.
The vice chairman automatically succeeds the chairman, so the Republican Hogan will take over for Montana Gov. Steve Bullock, a Democrat who is running for president.
In his first address as chairman, Hogan planned to announce a yearlong initiative aimed at pushing for repairing and modernizing the nation’s aging infrastructure.
“As NGA chairman, I intend to highlight the work of our governors and drive action from our leaders in Washington on an issue that is so fundamental to our economy and our quality of life," the governor said in a statement.
Glendening, who was chairman of the association from 2000 to 2001, said he met with Hogan about 10 days ago to discuss how the current governor should approach the position.
“It’s good for him personally and it’s good for the state as well," said the Democrat, who was governor from 1995 to 2003.
Glendening said he was heartened to hear Hogan would pursue an agenda that emphasizes investment in infrastructure. He said he told Hogan during their meeting he should approach the issue in a balanced way.
“I stressed to him: you’ve got to have other goals than just building more roads. There’s got to be a balance with transit,” Glendening said.
Glendening said Hogan’s new position won’t necessarily result in more federal dollars coming to Maryland, but it will give the governor a bigger role in helping influence policy across the country.
“In terms of bringing home the bacon, it’s not likely to be much,” Glendening said. “There are not immediate financial rewards. But there are other things of importance: One is the ability to influence policy."
Hogan said his infrastructure initiative, Foundation for Success, will emphasize relieving congestion so people can get to work more quickly and leveraging private-sector investments in public infrastructure, among other goals.
“There are not immediate financial rewards. But there are other things of importance: One is the ability to influence policy."— Parris Glendening, former chairman of the National Governors Association and former Maryland governor
Maryland Democratic Party Chairwoman Maya Rockeymoore Cummings congratulated Hogan on his new role. But she said Hogan’s track record of infrastructure investment in Maryland leaves much to be desired.
“We hope that he gives Maryland more attention in his efforts to rebuild America’s bridges, roads and plumbing," Rockeymoore Cummings said.
She cited Hogan’s elimination of a planned $2.9 billion light rail project in Baltimore called the Red Line.
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“In recent years, Baltimore has seen a transit project cancelled, collapsing sinkholes, flooding train tunnels and regular water main breaks,” Rockeymoore Cummings said. "Systemic disinvestment in our cities cannot become a national blueprint.”
Hogan argued his track record on infrastructure is strong.
He said his administration has repaved more than half of the state’s highway system and invested $14 billion in transit.
In 2017, the state broke ground on the Purple Line light rail project in Montgomery and Prince George’s counties. Hogan also is advancing a road-widening plan for the Capital Beltway and Interstate 270 — which his administration calls the largest highway public-private project in the world. Private developers would be engaged to pay for and build extra lanes on those roads and then collect the revenue from drivers in tolls.
Del. Nic Kipke, an Anne Arundel County Republican who is House minority leader, praised Hogan’s emphasis on infrastructure, which he said is an issue that unites political parties.
“Here in Maryland, he’s focused on issues that unite people, like fixing bridges, eliminating potholes and reducing traffic, which is sorely needed here and around the country,” Kipke said.
Maryland governors have a history of taking leadership roles in governors’ groups. In addition to Glendening leading the NGA, former Gov. Martin O’Malley served as chairman of the Democratic Governors Association from 2011 to 2013.