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ICYMI: Governor’s Race: Let The (Ad) Campaign Begin

“The sleeping giant that is the Larry Hogan re-election campaign just woke up.”

The Baltimore Sun
Editorial Board
May 30, 2018

“Maryland’s gubernatorial campaign has been going on for a long time, with candidates appearing at forums, house parties and other events from one corner of the state to the other for more than a year. But with less than a month to go until the primary, things are getting serious. How can you tell? The sleeping giant that is the Larry Hogan re-election campaign just woke up.

“It’s not that Mr. Hogan has been inattentive to the challenge of trying to become the first Republican to win a second term as Maryland governor since Theodore McKeldin. He’s been walking a finely calibrated line in managing his relationship with the profoundly unpopular Republican president. During the last legislative session, he embraced causes important to the state’s Democratic majority, from gun control to protecting the Affordable Care Act. And he’s made full use of the power of his office to bolster his standing — for example, by traveling to the Bay Bridge to announce an end to E-Z Pass fees right before Memorial Day weekend. And he’s been raising money. Lots and lots of money.

“So much money that he was able to start buying television air time in both the Baltimore and Washington media markets for a minute-long ad this week and, given the money he already has and the pace at which he’s raising it, could probably continue doing so until the November election. …

“…. Maryland was looking for a change, and Mr. Hogan has provided it without excessive partisan conflict. His presence in Baltimore after the 2015 riots was reassuring, and his successful battle with cancer really did deepen his bond with people across Maryland.

“Mr. Hogan’s initial ad is, essentially, a bet on the proposition that people are happy with the direction of the state and aren’t looking for change or even, particularly, for new ideas. It’s an effort to frame the election as a referendum on the incumbent, not as a contest between him and a Democrat. (In contrast to his approach four years ago, he doesn’t even use the word ‘Democrat’ in the ad, even the parts describing job losses and tax hikes before he arrived in Annapolis, and the only appearance of the word ‘Republican’ is in a Washington Post headline that briefly flashes on the bottom of the screen.) …

“What it all boils down to is this: Governor Hogan knows exactly who he is and why he’s running, and most Marylanders do, too. In case they don’t, he’s got the resources and focus to remind them. At this point, none of the Democrats can match that. If anyone is going to emerge from this primary to present a real challenge to the incumbent, he or she is going to have to change that fast. Mr. Hogan clearly isn’t going to sit around and wait for them to figure it out.”