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The Baltimore Sun Endorses Larry Hogan for Governor

“Four years ago, we very nearly endorsed Larry Hogan for governor. We had significant doubts about his Democratic opponent’s record and the campaign he had run. Mr. Hogan, meanwhile, offered the prospect of something we had long thought Maryland needed — a moderate, pragmatic executive who could cooperate with the Democratic majority in the General Assembly or act as a check on it when warranted. …

“Today, many of our concerns have been allayed. Mr. Hogan was true to his promise to steer clear of social issues like abortion and LGBT rights. He did not seek to weaken Maryland gun laws and even endorsed some measures to strengthen them. His administration worked closely with the General Assembly to shore up the Affordable Care Act and reform the criminal justice system. On the environment, no one will confuse him for the second coming of Parris Glendening, but his record is certainly much better than we might have expected on issues from fracking to air pollution to nutrient runoff into the Chesapeake Bay.

“He has made good to focus on business issues, seeking reviews of Maryland’s regulatory environment and, laudably, working to eliminate the collateral consequences of incarceration that hinder job and entrepreneurial prospects for ex-offenders. We have long argued for the importance of a viable two-party system in Maryland, and he has provided it largely without the kind of partisan acrimony that’s now ubiquitous Washington (and was in Annapolis the last time a Republican was governor). We saw how Mr. Hogan dealt with a crisis after the 2015 unrest in Baltimore, and his successful battle with cancer revealed a human side that we and millions of others could identify with. …

“… On the night of the worst post-Freddie Gray unrest, when Baltimore’s leadership was literally invisible, he stepped in to reassure the city, and he conducted himself with sensitivity in the days that followed. He has worked with Mayor Catherine Pugh to resurrect the city-state partnership to fight violent crime that showed great effect when Mr. O’Malley was governor and Sheila Dixon was mayor. By and large, he has provided what Mayor Pugh has asked for in terms of resources to modernize and reform the Baltimore Police Department. He has also substantially increased the state’s role in Baltimore’s anti-blight efforts — slow and difficult but essential work. And despite his occasionally harsh assessment of the city school system, he did agree to provide extra funds to patch over the district’s chronic budget shortfall for a period of years until new, fairer education funding formulas can be enacted. We also appreciated his initial support for Baltimore’s bid for Amazon’s second headquarters.

“And in many other respects, we have been pleased by his leadership. Health care has been a particular strong suit. His administration’s cooperation with the Democratic leaders in the General Assembly to enact a reinsurance pool this year, and its subsequent success in getting the Trump administration to sign off on it, turned projected huge increase in individual insurance premiums on the state health care exchange into decreases. Perhaps even more important, his administration not only supported the innovative reform to Maryland’s unique hospital payment system that the O’Malley and Obama administrations agreed to but they renewed and expanded it through negotiations with the Trump administration. Maryland’s efforts to improve patient care while reducing cost are a national model.

“We wholeheartedly embrace Governor Hogan’s call to create a nonpartisan system for redrawing congressional and legislative district lines. Democrats’ refusal to enact it is shameful.

“Mr. Hogan’s stewardship of state finances has been sound. He has neither made large new spending commitments nor attempted big tax cuts but has instead maintained a steady approach to the budget. This year, when it became clear that unintended side effects of the federal tax cuts would increase state income tax collections, he again worked cooperatively with the legislature to offer protection for lower-income Marylanders while banking much of the windfall to lay the groundwork for a major increase in education spending related to the expected findings of the Commission on Innovation and Excellence in Education. His adoption of the Democrats’ proposal for a ‘lockbox’ for casino revenue is another step along the same path. …

“… But in considering the totality of his record, we conclude that he has lived up to his promise to govern in a way that reflects Maryland’s ‘middle temperament.’ He was the right leader for Maryland during his first term, and we believe he will be again for a second. He has our endorsement.”

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