Outgoing Republican Gov. Larry Hogan of Maryland will soon wrap up eight years running that state, and immediately proceed to the bin of history’s forgottens, as shown by an appearance on CNN Tuesday.
Hogan, a staunch Trump critic and one of a few left-leaning Republicans who lead a liberal state, has been rumored to be a 2024 presidential candidate. On Tuesday, he took a swipe at a potential rival, Florida Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis.
Hogan told CNN’s Jake Tapper that DeSantis does not have broad enough appeal to win over areas of the country outside the Sunshine State.
Tapper noted that Hogan leaves office with a 73% approval rating in a state where Democrats outnumber GOP voters by a 2-1 margin.
Tapper wondered why Republican leaders are not seeking to learn Hogan’s “lesson” about appealing to left-wingers.
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Hogan criticized GOP leaders for not recognizing the ability of himself and other left-leaning GOP governors, like Charlie Baker of Massachusetts, to implement “bipartisan, commonsense” policies that he pursued with Democrats’ approval.
He charged that Republican Party leaders have done a “terrible job” trying to appeal to swing voters.
“You can’t just appeal to the base,” he added. “It’s a losing strategy.”
Yet Tapper failed to note that for the last half of Hogan’s tenure, Maryland has consistently ranked in the top 10 states that people are fleeing — while Florida is one of the top destinations for former blue-staters.
Tapper also failed to point out that Maryland has the third-highest state income tax rate in the country — while Florida has no state income tax.
Tapper then raised DeSantis and whether he would be able to appeal to voters in the middle.
“Well, he hasn’t done it so far,” Hogan replied.
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“He’s done a really good job of getting on Fox News, and he’s capturing a lot of attention. But he certainly hasn’t done it the way Charlie Baker and [Vermont Republican Gov.] Phil Scott, and I have. We’re consistently the most, the highest job approval in the country. And I think DeSantis is down around 30th place among governors.”
“He is focused on the base, and he’s doing pretty well with the base. But he’s going to have to figure out a way if he wants a political future beyond Florida, to appeal to a broader audience.”
Hogan was wrong about DeSantis, though.
In a Morning Consult poll released last week, DeSantis was tied for 14th most popular governor with a 56% approval rating.
Hogan was obviously so focused on catering to Democrats that he missed where DeSantis won buy five counties in Florida in November, including hardcore Democratic areas like Miami-Dade and Palm Beach counties.
Hogan sidestepped Tapper’s question about whether he would run in 2024.
But, he added, he would be a “voice” for a “bigger tent” Republican Party.
“I’m not ready to give up on my Republican Party or the country,” Hogan said.
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There is no doubt that Hogan will be the media darling if he decides to run. He will be incessantly propped up by CNN, MSNBC, and the other legacy media as the anti-Trump choice — all part of an effort to convince Republicans that they are only right by shifting left.
But Hogan’s evident and increasing sense of self-importance produces a blind spot.
In light of his comments about DeSantis, Tapper, or someone else, should ask Hogan what appeal could he possibly have outside of the state of Maryland.
After all, do Republicans in Florida, Texas, Wyoming, West Virginia, Alabama, and elsewhere want a guy who carries a 71% approval rating in a state that is 67% Democrat?