Last week’s off-season elections in local and state governments across the country were a victory for progressives everywhere. The Washington Post dubbed Tuesday’s Democratic wins “a massive rejection of Trumpism.”
Maryland did not have any statewide elections last week (although we only have a year to go until our gubernatorial elections on November 6, 2018), but Governor Larry Hogan has spent this election season preparing for his reelection bid by stumping for other Republicans.
Elected officials often campaign for other candidates in their party, and Hogan is no exception. Directly contradicting his previous attempts to distance himself from President Donald Trump, Hogan has chosen to endorse gubernatorial Republican candidates who subscribe to Trump’s vile brand of bigotry and extremism.
Take the highly publicized Virginia governor’s race, for example. Our neighbors in Virginia stood up to Trump and his far-right ideology by rejecting the Republican candidate for governor, Ed Gillespie, and instead embraced Democratic candidate Ralph Northam. Virginia, which voted for Hillary Clinton in 2016, chose Northam over Gillespie by a whopping nine percent margin. Gillespie tried to copycat Trump’s extremist rhetoric and “keep the Trump base energized with xenophobic and race-baiting appeals” in a failed attempt to woo Trump voters. He even brought Trump on board to record a robo-call to Virginians in which Trump promised that “Gillepsie will help Make America Great Again.” Sound familiar?
Just like Trump, Hogan hopped onto Gillespie’s campaign without hesitation. Only days before the election, Hogan headlined a rally for Gillespie in Northern Virginia, calling the same man who released a campaign ad grossly equating Latino immigrants with MS-13 gang members “a great leader in the Republican Party.”
Gillespie is not the only Trump-esque Republican that Hogan has rushed to embrace. Hogan has been vocal in his support for Pennsylvania gubernatorial candidate Scott Wagner, a Republican state senator currently competing for the Republican nomination to be governor. A staunch Trump supporter, Wagner has called the President “a visionary.” Trump has yet to endorse Wagner himself, but his Chief Strategist and Breitbart News executive Steve Bannon has.
Nearly a year before Pennsylvania will even hold its gubernatorial primary, Hogan endorsed Wagner, who has donated substantially to Hogan’s campaign. But Hogan did more than just endorse Wagner; he put his money where his mouth is and headlined a July fundraiser for Wagner that netted half a million dollars in campaign contributions.
In August, Wagner crudely referred to Democratic donor George Soros as a “Hungarian Jew” with a “hatred for America.” Wagner refused to apologize. By vouching for Wagner’s qualifications to be governor of Pennsylvania, Hogan is legitimizing Wagner’s hateful comments. Calls for Hogan to do the right thing and rescind his endorsement of Wagner have fallen on deaf ears.
Time will tell if Hogan has the wisdom to properly distance himself from Wagner and Trump as the 2018 Maryland and Pennsylvania gubernatorial elections approach, but actions speak louder than words. How can we trust Hogan if he claims to disavow Trump’s policy stances only to endorse Trump’s allies?