- Associated Press - Wednesday, January 21, 2015

ANNAPOLIS, Md. (AP) - Gov. Larry Hogan was sworn in as Maryland’s 62nd governor Wednesday, pledging to be a fiscally responsible leader who will work to create jobs by making Maryland more attractive to businesses.

Hogan, a Republican who won an upset victory in a heavily Democratic state, emphasized his intention to work with Democrats who control the Legislature. Maryland’s state government will not be bogged down in the gridlock that has gripped the nation’s capital 30 miles away, he said.

“Today is not the beginning of an era of divided government,” Hogan said, as snow fell outside the Maryland State House during his inaugural address. “Today is the beginning of a new spirit of bipartisan cooperation in Annapolis.”

Hogan said he would be guided by four main goals in office: fiscal responsibility, economic growth, reform and fairness.

Soon after taking office, Hogan took action by putting on hold controversial fertilizer regulations that critics say would hurt farmers. Supporters of the regulations have said they are crucial to fighting pollution in the Chesapeake Bay by limiting manure applied to farm fields with excess phosphorous levels.

Erin Montgomery, Hogan’s spokeswoman, said a comprehensive review process of the regulations will be done with public input.

The 58-year-old real estate broker, who has never held elected office before, campaigned largely on financial issues in his victory over Anthony Brown, a Democrat who served eight years as former Gov. Martin O’Malley’s lieutenant governor.

After years of tax increases during O’Malley’s tenure, Hogan said he will focus on providing essential services while making sure the state lives within its means.

“We must run our state government more efficiently and more cost effectively,” Hogan said.

Hogan won some of the loudest cheers when he said the state must restore a sense of balance and fairness to beleaguered taxpayers.

“We must get the state government off our backs and out of our pockets, so that we can grow the private sector, put people back to work and turn our economy around,” Hogan said.

Another priority highlighted by the new governor: making the state more business friendly.

“Starting today, let me say loudly and clearly: Maryland is open for business,” Hogan said.

The new governor was introduced by New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, who came to Maryland four times to campaign for the underdog Republican in a state where Democrats outnumber Republicans 2-1. Christie, who bonded with a fellow Republican running in a Democratic state, described Hogan as the right person to reach across the political aisle to get things done.

“You see, as long as you stick to your principles, I do believe that compromise and consensus are not dirty words, because to accomplish what you need to accomplish here in Maryland, you are going to need someone who can bring people together - someone who isn’t afraid to be known as bipartisan, and that’s exactly the person you have in Gov. Larry Hogan,” Christie said.

Sen. James Rosapepe, a Prince George’s County Democrat, noted the appointments of several Democrats to Hogan’s administration as a sign of bipartisanship so far. Rosapepe said much more will be known on Thursday, when Hogan is scheduled to talk about his budget proposal.

“I think he said the right things today, and I think if that’s reflected in his budget tomorrow and what goes on during the session, I think we can accomplish great things together,” Rosapepe said.

Hogan was sworn in by Court of Appeals Chief Judge Mary Ellen Barbara in the Maryland Senate, as required by the state constitution. He was sworn in again outside the statehouse. He took the oath of office with the Bible used by former Gov. Theodore McKeldin for his second inauguration in 1955. McKeldin was Maryland’s last two-term Republican governor and the last Republican mayor of Baltimore.

Lt. Gov. Boyd Rutherford was sworn in just before Hogan.

Hogan won in November as Republicans made big gains around the nation. Former Gov. Robert Ehrlich, who was Maryland’s last Republican to hold the office between 2003 and 2007, also spoke at the inauguration and congratulated the Hogan family.

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