- The Washington Times - Wednesday, January 16, 2019

ANNAPOLIS — Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan on Wednesday was sworn in for his second term in office, calling for a repudiation of the kinds of “debilitating” politics plaguing Washington and holding up Republican politicians such as the late former President George H.W. Bush and the late Sen. John McCain as models to emulate.

Mr. Hogan, a moderate former businessman who has emphasized issues tied to taxes, jobs and the economy during his first four years in office, is the first Republican in six decades to win a second term as governor of Maryland.

“Let’s repudiate the debilitating politics practiced elsewhere — including just down the road in Washington — where insults substitute for debate, recriminations for negotiation, and gridlock for compromise,” Mr. Hogan said in his second inaugural address, delivered just outside the State House.

Mr. Hogan said people have enough worries in their private lives without adding politics to the mix.

“Maybe we received a tough diagnosis or recently lost someone we love,” said Mr. Hogan, who has battled skin cancer. “We all suffer enough challenges in our lives that give us plenty to worry about. You shouldn’t have to obsess over or argue constantly about angry and divisive politics.”

He lauded his late father, Lawrence Hogan Sr., a former Republican congressman who supported impeaching former President Richard M. Nixon amid the Watergate scandal, as an example of someone who did what they believed was right regardless of politics.

“No man — not even the president of the United States — is above the law,” said the governor, quoting his father.

Mr. Hogan, who boasts eye-popping approval ratings and cruised to a double-digit victory last year, has distanced himself from President Trump, who remains unpopular in a state where registered Democrats outnumber Republicans by a 2-1 margin.

Mr. Hogan said his father was proud to serve in Congress with Bush, who died in November, and called the 41st president “a true American hero who represented the very best of our nation.”

He also lauded McCain, a graduate of the nearby U.S. Naval Academy, as “another American hero.” McCain, who died in August, tangled with Mr. Trump when he was in the Senate, and the president did not attend McCain‘s memorial service.

“As we look back on the lives of these leaders, it makes us yearn for something better and more noble than the politics of today,” Mr. Hogan said.

Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, a son of the 41st president, introduced Mr. Hogan ahead of his address.

“I think Gov. Larry Hogan is the best example in public life today making efforts each and every day to less coarsen our culture — to make it stronger, more loving,” he said.

Mr. Bush, who famously clashed with Mr. Trump during the 2016 campaign for the Republican nomination, said the culture has become “coarsened” in the past few decades and that people in the public square have a disproportionate influence on it.

“They’re seen. Their microphone is louder. Their Twitter feeds, I guess, [are] bigger … and so they have a greater responsibility, I think, to turn our culture into a more loving place,” he said.

As for Maryland, Mr. Hogan said recent years have shown that people can rise above partisan rancor. He touted “bipartisan, common sense” solutions that have worked for the people of the state.

“We didn’t surrender our principles; we simply practiced the art of the possible, and we trusted Marylanders to appreciate the distinction,” he said. “Do the right thing, and the politics will work itself out — that was our plan.”

He touted progress on lowering taxes, cutting back regulations, funding education, protecting health care coverage, investing in infrastructure and cleaning up the Chesapeake Bay.

“Today, I ask my partners in the legislature to join in reaffirming our pledge to continue on this bold new path,” he said. “Let’s keep putting people’s priorities before partisan interests.”

Mr. Hogan is hamstrung to an extent by Democratic supermajorities in the state House and Senate, but those attending the inaugural ceremony said they were hopeful that the governor would continue steering the state back toward the middle after years of one-party rule.

“I know they say ‘Don’t be in the middle of the road unless you’re a dead skunk’ … but middle of the road’s what you have to be in Maryland,” said former state Sen. Gail Bates, a Republican who lost her re-election bid last year. “We’re a very diverse state, and I think Gov. Hogan is amazing at steering that course.”

Others were pondering what could be next for the governor when he leaves office.

Mr. Hogan, who cannot run for a third consecutive term, is vice chairman of the National Governors Association and is in line to become the bipartisan group’s next chairman.

“He could run for president,” said Namrata Ram of Rockville, who works in the state education system. “He’s able to work both sides of the aisle, and we need that.”

Ms. Ram said she thought it was great that Mr. Hogan cited Bush and McCain in his speech.

“These are role models,” she said. “There’s a vast difference between what’s happening today and what happened in the past.”

Roy Johnson, a retiree from Montgomery County, said he could see Mr. Hogan on a national ticket someday if he is interested.

“In a year that was dismal for Republicans, he did very well — one of the best nationwide,” Mr. Johnson said. “Certainly, if he wanted to stay in politics I don’t see him running for county executive or county council anyplace or anything like that.”

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