Republicans may be outnumbered 2-1 in Maryland but the GOP has a good opportunity to boost its standing in the state by focusing on those voters who live outside of the most heavily Democratic jurisdictions and who may be on the fence, the newly-elected No. 2. Republican in the state Senate said.
“It really depends on the area of the state. There are parts of the state that are really trending Republican. And there are parts that are trending away from us. If you look at southern Maryland and parts like that young people are trending away from the Democrat Party,” Sen. Michael Hough (R-Frederick and Carroll) told MarylandReporter.com in a phone interview on Monday.
He added: “But obviously we continue to struggle in the D.C. suburbs and areas like that. We have a lot of opportunity for gains once you get out of the D.C. suburbs and outside of the city of Baltimore. It’s not just young people. I think it’s everybody together.”
Hough pointed to specific issues where he thinks the GOP can capitalize.
“Young people in Frederick County and places likes that. If they care about hunting, their gun rights. If they care about not being taxed to death. The Democrat Party has taxed everything under sun-including the rain in Maryland. They are taxing Netflix. They’re taxing everything. So I think there are a lot of arguments we can make for those people that are not in the real far-far-left of the state.”
Maryland’s voters’ decision to twice elect GOP Gov. Larry Hogan could be a strong argument in Hough’s favor. Hogan’s victories can largely be attributed to winning over independents and moderate Democrats-many of whom live in parts of the state where both parties are reasonably competitive.
In both 2014 and 2018 Hogan won 19 of Maryland’s 24 jurisdictions-losing only Baltimore City and Montgomery, Prince George’s and Charles counties. Statewide, Hogan captured 51% of the vote in 2014 and 55% in 2018. He is Maryland’s first two-term Republican governor since the 1950s.
But what happens to the Maryland GOP after Hogan leaves office?
Del. Stephanie Smith (D-Baltimore City) said the state GOP’s support for President Donald Trump-whom is very unpopular in Maryland and whom Hogan is often critical of-could hurt the party’s electoral prospects in the near-term future.
“We are a state of middle temperament. And what this presidency has been, has been not a middle temperament. And I just think that to the extent that there is no daylight between our state GOP and Trump-I think that could be a problem for them as they try to win general elections moving forward.”
But Del. Brian Chisholm (R-Anne Arundel) said the matter is not that simple.
“I think there’s some Republicans out there that do not look at the president favorably. And I do know from other Republicans who have told me that they have had supporters leave them because they know that they’re for President Trump. But I think there are a lot more closet Trump supporters than you’ll ever know because they do not want to be boycotted or have the cancel culture come after them.”
Chisholm said he does not think the political landscape will change that much after Hogan leaves office.
“I don’t think post-Hogan is going to change a whole lot. I think in the political world we live in nowadays everyone is solidly on one side or the other. I don’t feel like many people are in the middle.”
Hough, 40, has served in the Senate since 2015. He sits on the Senate Judicial Proceedings Committee. On Oct 10, Hough was elected minority whip and Sen. Brian Simonaire (R-Anne Arundel) was elected minority leader. The duo are considered slightly more conservative than the leadership team they are succeeding-which was made up of Sens. J.B. Jennings (Baltimore and Harford) and Stephen Hershey (Upper Shore).
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