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Why Larry Hogan represents the best of US politics 

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Larry Hogan, the former governor of Maryland, is vying for the Republican nomination for the Senate. His entry into the race and his competitiveness in a so-called “blue state” demonstrate that people serving people, not parties, are what should matter when it comes to our elected officials. 

Hogan was an enormously popular governor for eight years (from 2015 to 2023). According to one poll, he had a 77 percent approval rating when he left office last year. In fact, he had a more favorable rating among Democratic voters (81 percent) than with Republican voters (68 percent). This makes him a formidable candidate to gain not only the Republican nomination, but also the Senate seat. If he is successful, this would buck a 40-plus year trend of Democratic senators serving in the state

Finding politicians who can gain support from voters across the political spectrum is challenging. It is straightforward to have the support of people who support your party. It is far more difficult to garner votes from independents and those who typically affiliate with the other party.  

Fortunately, there are some politicians who have traversed this narrow path in public service. 

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Joe Manchin, a Democratic senator from West Virginia, and Jon Tester, a Democratic senator from Montana, are two such examples. They both represent “red” states, yet have received a sufficient number of votes to defeat their Republican challengers. They also represent just a handful of states with a split Senate delegation.  

Both the Republican and Democrat parties have been effective in convincing voters that party affiliation is more important than the person running. However, there are limitations with such a position.  

This was most blatantly demonstrated in the 2022 Senate runoff in Georgia, when Democrat Raphael Warnock defeated Republican Hershel Walker. Georgia is a typically reliable Republican stronghold; however, Walker was viewed by voters as ill-suited to serve as their senator. Whether Republicans can turn this trend around in 2024 remains to be seen.  

What is certain is that simply putting any person up for election will not always yield the desired outcome. 

The voters in Maryland have the opportunity to upset the toxic nature of party politics and support someone who has well served the people of that state. In 2014, Hogan garnered 51 percent of the popular vote to win his first term as governor. He improved on these numbers in his second term, winning over 55 percent of the popular vote

There is a precedent for governors to transition into the Senate. Between 1900 and 2020, 153 governors have been elected or appointed into the Senate. Most recently, from 2000 to 2020, 19 governors eventually served in the Senate. This means that Hogan would be in good company, carrying with him a strong tailwind in getting elected. 

Yet these are no ordinary times. With partisan politics the standard in Congress, and across the nation, Hogan will need to overcome such headwinds if he is to be successful in gaining the Maryland Senate seat. 

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The nation needs more elected officials like Larry Hogan. Whether they are Democrat or Republican, their focus is on serving their constituents, not their party. Their party affiliation represents the values that they believe in and adhere to. Yet their role is to serve as a voice for the people that elected them, and the state that they represent.  

The 118th Congress has struggled, as evidence by the number of bills that it passed in 2023. The Republican Party disfunction in the House and its inability to move past the toxic environment encouraged by former President Trump may be the root cause of such a performance. 

Someone like Larry Hogan (even though he would be elected to serve in the Senate, not the House) brings sensible thinking to Washington and Congress. If he sticks to his principles and ideals, he can be an effective bridge between the parties, and demonstrate the power of service that should be emblematic of our elected officials. 

If he abandons such principles, he will be a one-term Senator and his positive influence will be short-lived. This provides ample motivation for him to remain true to his words and values. 

The people of Maryland are fortunate to have had Hogan serve as their governor for eight years. They will be even more fortunate to have him serve as their senator, should he win.  

Sheldon H. Jacobson, Ph.D., is a professor of Computer Science at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. He applies his expertise in data-driven risk-based decision-making to evaluate and inform public policy.  

Copyright 2024 Nexstar Media Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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Source: The Hill

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