- - Thursday, October 16, 2014

ANALYSIS/OPINION:

Democrats stand at the edge of panic. The miserable economy, a president who retreats from challenge to lead from behind and the failure of the federal government to deal responsibly with the Ebola crisis all undermine faith in the party of more and bigger government. In a state that runs deep blue, a Republican has a shot at taking the Maryland governor’s mansion.

Gov. Chris Christie of New Jersey, head of the Republican Governors Association, certainly thinks so. He’s hitting the campaign trail next week on behalf of Larry Hogan, the Republican gubernatorial candidate whose quest to end one-party rule in Maryland has been gaining steam in the polls. Mr. Christie knows what it’s like to beat the odds, to win in an overwhelmingly Democratic state.

Mr. Hogan isn’t running as a firebrand of the right, tossing red meat to hungry masses. That would be foolish in a state where Democrats hold more than 70 percent of the seats in the General Assembly. A principled realist, Mr. Hogan has focused his campaign on the things he could actually do to make a difference in Maryland.

He would employ the authority of the governor over the budget to hold the line on spending, eliminating the necessity of raising taxes. He would appoint Cabinet secretaries who would roll back the onerous regulations that have been driving businesses — with their jobs — to other states. “There’s nobody in the O’Malley administration who’s worked a day in the private sector,” Mr. Hogan tells The Washington Times. “I want to bring people with real-world experiences that come from the private sector.”

Mr. Hogan points to the example of Beretta, one of the largest employers in Southern Maryland, which is moving to Tennessee because of the hostile legislative and regulatory environment. A Gallup poll earlier this year finds 47 percent of Marylanders wishing they lived somewhere else. They’re fed up with “rain taxes” and are poised with hope for change.

The Democratic candidate, Anthony G. Brown, wants more of the same. His claim to fame as lieutenant governor was presiding over Maryland’s Obamacare exchange, which was supposed to put a shine on socialized medicine. Mr. Brown heralded the arrival of $123 million to pay for the new website two years ago. “With the help of these funds,” said Mr. Brown, “the name Maryland Health Connection will become synonymous with a one-stop, transparent marketplace where individuals and small businesses can compare rates, benefits and quality among private insurance plans to find one that best suits their needs.”

Mr. Brown’s work has instead become synonymous with failure. The initial website was scrapped and the money spent on it exceeds $260 million. Excluding automatic Medicaid rollovers, the site has signed up only 80,000 customers. That’s $3,250 per enrollee. So much for the “affordable” in President Obama’s Affordable Health Care Act. Mr. Hogan would have followed the lead of Virginia, which refused even to open a state exchange. Without spending a dime of state funds, more Virginians signed up for Obamacare through Healthcare.gov than Marylanders using Mr. Brown’s website.

Only a little less popular than the Obamacare website in Maryland are the revenue cameras that have spread like a blight on the roads. “People hate them,” says Mr. Hogan. “I personally don’t like the speed cameras and would love to do something about them.” If voters in November entrust Mr. Hogan to run the State Highway Administration, he’ll get that opportunity.

Mr. Hogan would make a difference that Marylanders would feel in their pocketbooks at once. Hope demands change, and we recommend Larry Hogan for governor, with optimism and enthusiasm.


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