Hogan talks political persuasion at Towson University

Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan Jr., made a surprise visit to Towson University Tuesday to teach students enrolled in Dr. Richard Vatz’s political persuasion class.

Vatz introduced Hogan to the 75 students, nearly a dozen faculty members and other dignitaries in attendance. He called Hogan’s rather unexpected 2014 victory over former Lt. Gov. Anthony Brown a testament to the governor’s own powers of political persuasion.

Hogan introduced former state school superintendent Nancy S. Grasmick and Higher Education Secretary James D. Fielder Jr., and then commented on his unlikely rise to the Maryland’s highest office.

“I’m a small businessman, I had never held elected office before and I’m a Republican in a state that is overwhelmingly more than two-to-one Democratic,” Hogan said.

Hogan also said concerns over fiscal issues, namely high taxes and chronic job loss, partially motivated him to establish his advocacy group Change Maryland less than five years ago and subsequently run for office.

“As a small businessman I became frustrated with our economy in Maryland,” Hogan said. “We had been taxed 46 times in a row, taxes went up by $10 billion, and we lost 8,600 businesses and nearly 200,000 jobs.”

Speaking of challenges both personal and political, Hogan spoke of his successful fight against cancer, conflicts with the General Assembly and the unrest that occurred last year following Freddie Gray’s death. Hogan also mentioned that Tuesday is anniversary of Freddie Gray’s death and that his administration is taking steps to help improve the quality of life in Baltimore City.

Following his remarks Hogan answered questions from students on issues such as working with the Democratic-controlled General Assembly, the root causes of last year’s unrest in Baltimore, and why more candidates haven’t followed the governor’s lead in running issue based campaigns as to opposed negative attack ads.

As for working with the General Assembly, Hogan said his administration is doing it’s best to reach equitable compromises but faces significant challenges.

“There are more than two-thirds majorities in both Houses; the House and the Senate are both overwhelmingly Democratic so they can override every single veto and if they don’t want something to happen, its not going to happen,” Hogan said.

With regards to last years unrest, Hogan said many of the problems that occurred can be attributed to frustrations among Baltimore’s residents that have been building up over the course of several decades.

“There’s a lot more thats happening beneath the surface, Freddie Gray was a spark,” Hogan said. “There were a lot things that have been happening for 50 years in Baltimore that caused people to be so frustrated.”

Hogan subsequently described how he witnessed some of those frustrations first hand.

“We walked the streets and talked with people about their frustrations, people that can’t find jobs, that see no hope, that see no opportunity, that don’t feel like they’re getting a good education, that don’t feel like anyone’s paying attention to them in the city.”

On running issued based campaigns, Hogan described how his Democratic opponent had unleashed a series of negative attacks attacks against him and said he was proud that his campaign responded with positive ads rebutting those claims.

The Baltimore Post-Examiner spoke with several of the students after class.

Riley Battaglia, 20, of Bel Air, told the Post-Examiner he is a moderate Republican who voted for the governor and wishes other members of the GOP would embrace compromise as Hogan has.

“I wish more Republicans were like him,” Battaglia said.

Battaglia also said he was appreciative that Hogan’s remarks were “content focused” rather than ideologically divisive.

Megan O’Donnell, 22, of Annapolis, told the Post-Examiner the governor made a good impression on her.

“It was really interesting,” O’Donnell said, and subsequently described Hogan as both “very reasonable” and “very personable.”

Kelly DuPont, 21, of Garden City, NY, said she too was impressed with Hogan.

“He’s a phenomenal fit for governor of Maryland,” DuPont said.