“People have asked me to give this serious consideration, and I think I owe it to those people to do just that, and that’s what I’m doing,” Gov. Larry Hogan told an audience of 300 at a “Politics and Eggs” breakfast at Saint Anselm College, but then added that he is not inclined to run “unless I thought there was a real path to victory.”
“I’ve said before, I’m not going to launch some kind of a suicide mission. I have a real day job that’s important to me for the people of Maryland,” Hogan said.
Trump is already facing one primary challenger, former Massachusetts Gov. Bill Weld, and former Ohio Gov. John Kasich is also considering entering the GOP race.
Weld opened an exploratory committee in February and officially announced his candidacy last week. The “Politics and Eggs” series is a favorite for potential presidential candidates, and Hogan’s scheduled appearance raised speculation that he could announce his campaign there.
He dispelled that idea at the very start of his remarks. “I’m not here to make any official announcements today,” he said.
Weld campaign spokeswoman Jennifer Horn said that Hogan and Weld share a “concern for the future of our nation” and that Weld “looks forward to an engaging conversation with all who choose to run.”
Hogan, 62, won an easy reelection last autumn, despite the Democratic Party’s overwhelming voter registration advantage in Maryland. He said his ability to expand upon the Republican voting base was key to that.
“I won suburban women overwhelmingly. I won nearly a third of the African American vote in a state that has a very high minority population. No other Republicans in America are doing that,” Hogan said.
“To insist 100% loyalty to the dear leader, it just didn’t sound very much like the Republican Party I grew up in.”
Trump, meanwhile, is taking the GOP in the wrong direction, he said. “I think the Republican Party is shrinking the base down to only a certain percentage of white males.”
“I obviously have some very strong concerns about the future of my party and the future of the country,” Hogan said, adding that Republican National Committee’s willingness to stifle dissent against Trump was worrisome.
“To insist 100% loyalty to the dear leader, it just didn’t sound very much like the Republican Party I grew up in,” he said. “I’m for a return to a more traditional Republican Party.”
RNC spokesperson Cassie Smedile said the party publicly backed George W. Bush for reelection in 2004, so supporting an incumbent president is not new. She added: “The RNC and the Republican Party are firmly behind the president. Any effort to challenge the president’s nomination is bound to go absolutely nowhere.”
Hogan said he has not set a timetable for deciding, and noted that the filing deadline to make the ballot for February’s New Hampshire primary is not until November. “I’m going to take as much time as it takes to make that decision.”
The RNC at its winter meeting in January praised Trump and voted to support his reelection, but did not offer a formal endorsement.