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  • Elliott Wagner-Smith

Former Governor Larry Hogan Announces Bid for Maryland Senate Seat

Updated: Apr 23

Senator Ben Cardin (D-MD), now 80 years old, announced in May that he will be retiring, leaving his seat open for the 2024 election and beginning a competitive race. Maryland has long been a blue state, with Democrats outnumbering Republicans 2-1. But, on March 9, 2024, just before the deadline to file, former Governor Larry Hogan (R-MD) made the bombshell announcement that he would run for Cardin’s seat. His announcement came as a surprise to Marylanders, who have not been represented by a Republican in the Senate in 37 years. However, despite his political party, Hogan is still a popular candidate in a deeply blue state.

Hogan is the only Republican to have ever won re-election for the Governorship in Maryland’s history (back in 2018), boosting Republican hopes to win. Hogan also arguably has the most widespread name recognition among all the Republicans who announce their bid for the Senate seat. Seven other Republican candidates have filed to run, but very few have a campaign as publicized as Hogan. After Hogan’s announcement, former Air Force General John Teichert suspended his campaign to throw his support behind Hogan. Teichert had been leading polls within Maryland Republican polls.

The former Governor retains his popularity among Maryland voters but still faces an uphill battle. In 2023, Hogan left office with a 77% approval rating. Currently, Hogan leads the top Democratic candidate, David Trone, at 49% to Trone’s 33%. Hogan’s overall approval is still quite high; however, Democratic voters are more likely to feel apprehensive about voting for a Republican for Senate than for Governor, especially considering the very split nature of the current U.S. Senate. Democratic strategists have noted that while Hogan’s announcement has the potential to put Democrats on the defensive, the Democratic candidate would still be favored to win over Hogan. Hogan’s opponents are focusing on his track record for their campaigns, with Democrats particularly highlighting his stance on abortion—a topic to which Hogan expressed opposition to while Governor. Hogan has stated he is opposed to abortion, and during his Governorship, continuously vetoed or refused to sign legislation expanding reproductive care access in Maryland. In 2022, Hogan vetoed a bill that aimed to expand the scope of who could perform abortions from just solely physicians. Nevertheless, in earlier interviews, he stated that he was not interested in curtailing any abortion rights. When his 2022 veto was overridden by the Maryland state legislature, Hogan blocked funding set aside to support training non-physicians to perform abortions. Democratic candidate Angela Alsobrooks has already taken a swipe at Hogan for his abortion record, calling herself the “only [candidate] who's never compromised” on abortion protections. During his eight-year stint as Governor, Hogan also vetoed expansions for gun control, required 12-week paid medical leave for anyone employed in the state, and raised the state minimum wage. 

Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) touted Hogan’s campaign announcement as a win, calling it “a big boost” for Republicans in Maryland. McConnell told The Hill that he had worked hard to convince Hogan to run, which was already being used against the former governor. In a statement from his campaign, Democratic candidate David Trone has expressed extreme disapproval of Hogan’s run, calling it “a desperate attempt to return Mitch McConnell and Donald Trump to power,” and also referred to McConnell as the “patron saint of voter suppression.” Currently, Trone is tied with Hogan in polls from Emerson College. Currently, Trone leads Alsobrooks 45 to 34% in polls of Maryland Democrats. This is despite a recent controversy where Trone used a racial slur while speaking on the floor of the House of Representatives, which he has since apologized for. While Alsobrooks has received endorsements since the incidents, polls have not been conducted since the incident. 

Maryland’s Primary election, which will include the primaries for the Senate and Presidency, will be held on May 14, 2024. Early voting will be held from May 2 to May 9, and requests for mail-in ballots are due on May 10. Larry Hogan’s popularity as a Republican candidate in a historically very blue state will certainly make the 2024 Maryland Senate Race interesting for onlookers and political scientists. Hogan still leads in Republican primary polls and polls against Alsobrooks but is currently losing slightly in polls against David Trone. No polls have been published since May 20th showing the potential impact made by either Trone’s comments or the subsequent endorsements received by Alsobrooks. It remains to be seen whether the impact from either event will boost a candidate in polls. Either way, this race is expected to be extremely close, and polls after the primary will likely reveal more about the leanings of Maryland voters.


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