Former Maryland Governor and US Senate Candidate Addresses the Jewish Community

Former Maryland Gov. and U.S. Senate candidate Larry Hogan at an event organized by the Jewish Community Relations Council of Greater Washington on March 15. Photo credit: Braden Hamelin

Former Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan delivered a communal address hosted by the Jewish Community Relations Council of Greater Washington at Beth Shalom Congregation and Talmud Torah in Potomac on March 15, where he discussed his U.S. Senate campaign and addressed various topics of concern to the Jewish community.

The event was one of multiple programs that the JCRC plans to hold over the coming months which allows the Jewish community the opportunity to have in-person interactions with the major Maryland candidates running for the U.S. Senate to better inform their voting.

Hogan spoke to a crowd of interested community members and journalists about his commitment to shaking up the political scene in Washington, D.C., along with reiterating a strong commitment to Israel, the Jewish community in Maryland and fighting against bigotry.

Hogan addressed the audience wearing a kippah, a dog tag in honor of the hostages held by Hamas and an American/Israeli flag pin, reminding them of his longstanding commitment to support Maryland’s Jewish community.

“This is the first time that I stand before you as a candidate for the United States Senate. However, I’m no newcomer to this community. Some of the people in this room have come to know me over the past decade as we worked together to change for the better. From day one, I made it clear that there would be no place for antisemitism in the state of Maryland.”

Hogan, who left office in Jan. 2023 after concluding his second term as governor with an approval rating of almost 80%, said he began his Senate campaign after he heard news of a bipartisan bill on the border and foreign aid that failed due to partisan politics.

His campaign also arrives during a time of instability and political polarization in Congress and discontent among constituents, especially regarding the ongoing war in Gaza and growing calls from legislators for a cease-fire.

Hogan said that he would look to provide leadership that was in support of Israel in a similar way that Sen. Ben Cardin does and added that this type of support and leadership is currently missing from some officials on the Maryland political scene.

“It’s not what you’re getting from Maryland’s junior senator [Sen. Chris Van Hollen] who has become one of the most hostile voices against Israel in the entire United States Senate. Just this week, he signed an outrageous letter urging President Biden to cut off aid to Israel. Both of my potential Democratic opponents in this race have demanded that Israel enact an immediate and unilateral cease-fire,” Hogan said.

Hogan told reporters after the event that there was a shift among Democrats away from support for Israel but said that he could certainly work with Sen. Van Hollen if he were to be elected.

Hogan also didn’t express concern that his strong support for Israel would impact him in his race as a Republican candidate in a heavily Democratic state.

“My views on Israel have been pretty strong since 2014, when I first ran. I was a small business owner that stepped up to run and I went to synagogues all across the state. I talked to the JCRC. I talked to the Associated over in the Baltimore region and my positions have been the exact same kind of support for the past decade. So, it’s not like we [just] decided this was a good position to take,” Hogan said.

Hogan also got the chance to take questions from community members after his speech, answering questions about what his politics would look like for people considering voting against party lines, his plans for dealing with bigotry and what changes he wanted to bring to his own party.

One voter asked Hogan to “make him comfortable” voting for a Republican as a registered Democrat, while another asked what he would do from a policy standpoint to try and stem the growing antisemitism the country has seen spike in recent months.

This type of face-to-face communication is very helpful for constituents as they’re forming their opinions during election season and these kinds of forums give the Jewish community a platform where they can learn about issues that might impact them.

JCRC Executive Director Ron Halber said that typically Israel isn’t a huge area of focus for Jewish voters, but this year, given the events in Israel and widespread antisemitism, it will be “paramount” on Jewish voters’ minds.

That makes events like this so important for the Jewish community so they can get a chance to hear directly from candidates on these hot topic issues and make informed choices.

“The best voter is an informed voter, and the Jewish community makes up 10% of Montgomery County,” Halber said. “And we’ve got more information that we can feed to help our constituents critically think about who they want to vote for and become better informed voters.”

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