Gov. Larry Hogan has launched a new campaign, but it is not a bid against President Donald Trump for the White House.
Maryland’s Republican governor, elected to a second and final term last fall, appeared to be exploring a potential GOP primary challenge in 2020 against Trump.
On Saturday, though, Hogan thanked all those who encouraged him to run, but said he will not be a candidate next year.
“Instead, I am dedicated to serving my second term as Maryland’s governor and in my new role leading America’s governors as the incoming chairman of the National Governors Association. That work is important, and I believe both of those roles will give me the opportunity to make an impact on the direction of my party and our nation,” Hogan said in a statement.
Hogan said he wants to “play a major national role” within the GOP and “in the path our country takes.”
“That is why I launched An America United, because I am fed up with the broken and divisive ‘politics as usual’ and know we can do better. We can reject the extremes of both political parties, work to break partisan gridlock, and bring people together to advance bold solutions for all Americans,” he said.
Maryland is a Democratic-controlled state — Democrats hold strong majorities in both chambers of the the General Assembly, as well the top elected state positions such as attorney general and comptroller.
Both U.S. senators are Democrats, as are seven of Maryland’s eight members of the U.S. House of Representatives.
Hogan is only the second Republican elected to two terms as governor in Maryland. The first was Theodore McKeldin, reelected in 1955. While Hogan, a developer, had not previously held political office, he had served as secretary of appointments when Robert Ehrich, a fellow Republican, was governor.
Hogan’s father was a congressman and Prince George’s County executive.
In advance of his first gubernatorial campaign, Hogan launched Change Maryland in 2011, a grassroots effort critical of Democrat Martin O’Malley’s fiscal policies as governor.
Through Change Maryland, Hogan sought to create a healthy and competitive two-party system in Maryland.
“We’re not saying ‘Democrats are bad and Republicans are good.’ Frankly, I’m really kind of fed up and disgusted with politics as usual with both parties. And I think that’s why our message is appealing to a lot of independents,” Hogan said in a 2013 interview.
Hogan’s calls for bipartisanship have continued through his time as governor.
He has now found an additional avenue to spread his message with An America United.
“An America United is working to change America for the better. We support bipartisan, common-sense solutions to create more and better jobs, cut taxes, protect the environment, build our infrastructure and improve education — just as Governor Hogan has already done in Maryland — to get our nation back on the right track,” reads the mission statement on the campaign’s website.
A Youtube video released by the campaign includes soundbites from Hogan’s speeches calling for bipartisanship and stating that what is currently happening on Capitol Hill amounts to political theater rather than providing solutions to help Americans.
“In Maryland, we have created an environment of trust and cooperation, where the best ideas rise to the top based upon their merit, regardless of which side of the political aisle they come from,” Hogan said in a statement announcing An America United’s launch. “Working together, we have achieved real, bipartisan, common-sense solutions to the serious problems facing our state.
“If we can accomplish that in Maryland, then there is no place in America where these same principles cannot succeed. Let us seek that middle ground where we can all stand together and once again unite America,” Hogan said.
In the last month, two additional Republicans thought to potentially mount primary challenges against Trump have, like Hogan, backed away from the 2020 race.
Former Ohio Gov. John Kasich and former Sen. Bob Corker of Tennessee have reportedly said they will not seek the White House next year.
Former Massachusetts Gov. Bill Weld is a Republican reportedly still in the running against Trump.
Former Maryland Congressman John Delaney (D-Md., 6th) is running for president in 2020, one of two dozen candidates from his party so far.
He announced his bid for the presidency in 2017, a little more than six months after Trump was sworn into office.
On June 1, Delaney’s national press secretary Michel Starr Hopkins issued a statement voicing disappointment with Hogan’s decision not to challenge Trump.
“America needs more Republicans to stand up for decency and for our Democracy, not less,” the statement reads. “I hope that in the coming days more Republicans find the courage to stand up to a lawless President.”
In March, Delaney urged Hogan and other Republicans to “stand up and challenge” Trump.
“I believe that we need a Democrat in the White House and that we will have a Democrat in the White House in 2021. But step one in repairing our democracy is having two political parties committed to truth and decency,” Delaney said back in March.