Feb 22, 2024 - Politics & Policy

Scoop: Trump avoids precarious Maryland Senate race

This is Donald Trump

Photo: Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

In a sign of how badly the GOP wants to flip Maryland's Senate seat, former President Trump is expected to set aside his feud with the state's likely GOP nominee, Axios has learned.

Why it matters: Distancing himself from Trump could ultimately be crucial for former Gov. Larry Hogan in a solid blue state like Maryland, but Trump hasn't taken well to perceived disloyalty in the past.

  • Hogan is a formidable candidate for Republicans, but he's already facing a tough issue on abortion, and his two gubernatorial wins came in years where Trump wasn't also on the ballot.
  • Hogan told CNN that having Trump on the ballot would be a "big challenge," pointing to his history of criticizing the former president who continues to flex his control over the GOP.
  • Trump is not expected to attack Hogan despite their past fights, two sources told Axios. That could change if Hogan turns Trump into a campaign punching bag.

Reality check: Trump is prone to change his mind and can be hyper-responsive to public attacks.

  • Hogan has been one of the loudest Trump critics in the GOP. He did not vote for Trump in 2020, instead casting a write-in vote for the late President Reagan.
  • Trump labeled Hogan a "Shutdown RINO" in 2022 for his response to the pandemic. Trump also endorsed a challenger, who win the primary, to Hogan's hand-picked Republican successor that year.
  • "Marylanders know and trust Larry Hogan because they witnessed his eight-year record of success firsthand," National Republican Senate Committee spokesperson Tate Mitchell told Axios in a statement.

Zoom in: Hogan's greatest vulnerability will likely be on abortion.

  • Hogan hasn't run for election since the U.S. Supreme Court struck down constitutional protections for abortion — and it has proved to be a motivating issue for Democratic voters.
  • Hogan promised not to change Maryland abortion laws and has said he would not vote for a national ban.
  • But he vetoed a measure to expand abortion rights as governor and is personally opposed to abortion.

The bottom line: Marylanders also will be voting on a state constitutional amendment to protect abortion rights in November, which could juice turnout among Democratic voters unwilling to vote for a Republican.

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