Former Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan announces Senate bid

Former Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan announced Friday that he is running for US Senate this year, providing Republicans with a strong candidate in their bid to flip a seat in a deep-blue state.

“I am running for the United States Senate – not to serve one party – but to stand up to both parties, fight for Maryland, and fix our nation’s broken politics. It’s what I did as Maryland’s governor, and it’s exactly how I’ll serve Maryland in the Senate. Let’s get back to work,” Hogan said in a message posted to X.

Hogan, 67, argued that Washington is “completely broken” and that he’s “completely fed up with politics as usual.”

“Enough is enough. We can do so much better, but not if we keep electing the same kind of typical partisan politicians,” he said.

A popular former governor known for his moderate record, what Hogan is perhaps even better known for is his eagerness to criticize fellow Republican Donald Trump while in office and during his current presidential run. Hogan’s entry potentially upends not just the Maryland race, but the entire battle for control of the Senate, with Democrats holding a one-seat advantage and incumbents already on defense in several Republican-leaning states in addition to open races.

Republicans celebrated the news.

“I would pay a significant amount for a ticket to watch Chuck Schumer’s face right now,” Josh Holmes, the top political adviser to Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell, posted on X.

Two years ago, McConnell and other top Republicans made repeated entreaties to Hogan to challenge Sen. Chris Van Hollen. They appealed to him that he could be a moderate with major power in a closely divided Senate, like a Republican version of West Virginia Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin.

Hogan kept taking the meetings then, even as he edged away from saying yes, at one point even telling CBS News in an interview, “I have no interest whatsoever in running for the United States Senate.”

Even in what was expected to be a very favorable overall election year for Republicans in 2022, the huge Democratic advantages in Maryland would have made the race tough. Hogan passed, finishing out his term as governor and eyeing a potential 2024 run for president instead.

Hogan soon nixed running in the Republican primary, and not longer after, began to grow frustrated and lose faith in the No Labels group that he had joined, eventually quitting the board and giving up on his White House dream.

“You don’t want your legacy with the Acela corridor to be that you somehow helped Trump,” a person familiar with Hogan’s plans told CNN in January. “In theory, in your head, it’s nice to think about a third party. What if unintentionally you helped Trump?”

This year’s race is open, with two lesser-known Democrats — Prince George’s County Executive Angela Alsobrooks and Rep. David Trone — competing in a primary to replace retiring Sen. Ben Cardin. But the Democratic advantage in Maryland hasn’t changed, and those numbers are likely to be even more intense in a presidential election year. Maryland last elected a Republican to the Senate in 1980, and even as Republicans had a blowout year across the country in 2010, the Democratic Senate candidate in Maryland that year won with 62% of the vote.

Hogan’s problems also could come from within the GOP as well. Though he was personally popular during his two terms as governor, the state Republican Party has veered very much toward Trump. Hogan refused to support the Republican nominee to succeed him in 2022 and the MAGA wing of the party has long scorned him.

“Hogan waited until the last minute to file because he couldn’t survive a right-wing challenge in the Republican primary. This is a giant middle finger to the base of the MD GOP – bet one of the GOP legislators will file to run against him before 9PM tonight. Nothing to lose,” Baltimore-based Democratic political consultant Martha McKenna posted on X, responding to the news.

And other Democrats moved quickly to nationalize the race: “A vote for Republican Larry Hogan is a vote to make Mitch McConnell Majority Leader and turn the Senate over to Republicans so they can pass a national abortion ban,” said Democratic Senate Campaign Committee spokesperson Maeve Coyle.

Hogan was first elected governor in 2014, comfortably won reelection in 2018 and left office in January 2023 with high approval ratings. In recent decades, Maryland has been dominated by the Democratic Party at the state and federal levels. George H.W. Bush was the last Republican presidential nominee to win the Old Line State, in 1988.

Hogan faced several challenges throughout his governorship: riots in Baltimore, an unprecedented pandemic and a cancer diagnosis.

This story has been updated with additional reaction and background information.

CNN’s Shania Shelton contributed to this report.

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