Trump allies signal they’re declaring war against Republican Senate candidate

Ex-governor will face off with opposition from both Biden and Trump campaigns as he seeks Senate seat in Maryland

John Bowden
Washington DC
Sunday 02 June 2024 21:18 BST
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Larry Hogan calls for codifying Roe vs Wade in Senate ad

The Trump-aligned wing of the GOP is signaling an impending assault against Republican US Senate candidate Larry Hogan, adding a wrinkle to the battle for control of the upper chamber of Congress.

Formerly the two-term governor of Maryland, a decidedly blue state, Hogan has never been an ally of Donald Trump. He supported both impeachment inquiries into the ex-president, distinguishing himself as a member of a small minority of his party’s elected officials. The ex-governor also issued a scathing condemnation of the Republican then-president after January 6, during which he sent Maryland police to aid law enforcement at the US Capitol.

But it was his statement released on X ahead of the conviction of Trump on 34 felony counts in New York this past week that triggered promises of revenge from two high-ranking members of the former president’s inner circle.

Trump was found guilty on Thursday by a jury of 34 felony counts relating to a hush money scheme concocted during the height of the 2016 election. His ex-attorney, Michael Cohen, carried out the effort in which a porn star was paid off to ensure that her story of an affair with Trump was not made public during the presidential campaign. Prosecutors called this effort an illegal attempt to benefit his White House bid.

Hogan released a statement in which he called for both sides to respect the process and the nonpartisan nature of the US criminal court system ahead of the verdict’s announcement.

“Regardless of the result, I urge all Americans to respect the verdict and the legal process,” wrote Hogan. “At this dangerously divided moment in our history, all leaders—regardless of party—must not pour fuel on the fire with more toxic partisanship. We must reaffirm what has made this nation great: the rule of law.”

But that sentiment was insufficient in the eyes of Trump’s allies, who were incensed at Hogan’s refusal to join other Republicans in attacking the integrity of the judge, the jury, the prosecutors, and the Biden administration, which they’ve insisted without evidence is orchestrating the prosecutions of Donald Trump.

Chris LaCivita, Trump’s 2024 campaign manager, responded to the tweet directly: “You just ended your campaign.”

And Lara Trump, who recently assumed control at the Republican National Committee, lashed out at Hogan in an interview on CNN.

“He doesn't deserve the respect of anyone in the Republican Party at this point...or of anybody, frankly” said the RNC co-chair, adding to guest host Kasie Hunt that she would have to “get back to you” on whether the RNC still supported his candidacy at all.

It would have been a stunning moment in past election cycles, but in the new Trump-dominated GOP such demands for loyalty have become commonplace. The ex-president relentlessly attacked his rivals during the 2024 Republican primary and even stated that some of their supporters were no longer welcome in the party. He is also reported to be seeking to surround himself with others who embrace his lies and conspiracies about the 2020 election as he prepares to staff up for a possible second stint in the White House.

Hogan now faces a challenge he has never before dealt with in an election year: the de facto leader of his party and the combined Republican establishment openly seething at him and, in the RNC co-chair’s case, urging voters against supporting him.

The former governor won widespread popularity across the state of Maryland during his two terms in office, which he won in races that took place outside of presidential election years. Hogan has never contended with the prospect of sharing the ticket with Donald Trump; 2024 will be the first time that changes.

Former Governor Larry Hogan greets supporters on 14 May ahead of the state’s primary elections
Former Governor Larry Hogan greets supporters on 14 May ahead of the state’s primary elections (Getty Images)

Remaining firmly in his camp is one important ally: the National Republican Senatorial Committee (NRSC), which serves as the campaigning arm of the Senate GOP establishment. Currently headed by Steve Daines, the group finds itself divided this year as it backs both Hogan, a fervent anti-Trumper, and the former president’s avowed loyalists like Kari Lake in Arizona. The NRSC and Senate Republican leadership are thought to have lobbied the ex-governor for months to jump into the race, which is set to be one of the most expensive this cycle.

In the Senate, Hogan has promised to become one of the Republican caucus’ most moderate members, joining the ranks of Lisa Murkowki, Susan Collins and the departing Mitt Romney. But his election to the upper chamber would throw control of the Senate to Republicans unless Democrats picked up a seat elsewhere.

That reality has forced Hogan to campaign against the idea of being a rubber stamp for GOP (and Donald Trump’s) policies. In his first advertisement of the general election season, the former governor promised to vote for legislation codifying abortion rights into federal law if elected — a vow that marks Hogan as a clear outlier among the GOP Senate contenders of 2024. On Saturday, he cemented that “against the grain” image as he walked in a Pride parade in Annapolis, the state’s capital.

Polling of the Maryland Senate race suggests a competitive race between Hogan and Prince George’s County Executive Angela Alsobrooks, who won a decisive victory in the Democratic primary despite being massively outspent by her opponent. An Emerson College poll released on the eve of the primary indicated an advantage for Alsobrooks.

The Independent has reached out to the governor’s campaign for comment on the Trump team’s threats to end national support for his campaign.

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