Maryland’s Republican Gov.-elect, Larry Hogan, sailed to his historic victory Nov. 4 on the tide of a poorly run campaign by his Democratic challenger, Lt. Gov. Anthony Brown, and fatigue after eight years of Democratic Gov. Martin O’Malley. Yet, little is known about Hogan, other than that he is pro-business, that he wants to cut taxes and that he is a nice guy.
Certainly, Maryland’s General Assembly remains firmly in Democratic hands, although no longer with a veto-proof majority. But it is the governor who draws up the budget in the Free State, so his support of Jewish communal needs is crucial. During his two terms, O’Malley’s administration made room in the budget to support a steady stream of programs and projects that were of significant interest to our community, such as the Maryland/Israel Development Center and subsidized housing for low-income seniors. There’s no guarantee that Hogan will do the same, but there is also no indication that he won’t.
About one-third of Maryland Jews voted for Hogan, including a significant number of crossovers who never warmed to the lieutenant governor. So the work to support Jewish priorities now becomes bipartisan. Maryland has suffered in recent years because of dysfunction at the federal level, and the national election results do not guarantee an end to the partisan fights that resulted in the fund-slashing sequester and government shutdowns. That leaves it to the states, Maryland included, to make up for much of the difference.
With that in mind, we welcome the message of bipartisan cooperation that Hogan sounded at his first news conference as governor-elect. But we hope that he will make his specific priorities known in the near future. Our community had strong, meaningful relationships with the Democratic O’Malley administration and with the Republican Ehrlich administration before that. As we get to know Maryland’s next governor, we look forward to an equally strong, mutually beneficial relationship with the Hogan administration.