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Former Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan is running for the U.S. Senate

Then-Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan addresses supporters at the Maryland statehouse on Jan. 10, 2023, in Annapolis, Md. Hogan announced Friday he will run for U.S. Senate.
Julio Cortez
/
AP
Then-Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan addresses supporters at the Maryland statehouse on Jan. 10, 2023, in Annapolis, Md. Hogan announced Friday he will run for U.S. Senate.

ANNAPOLIS, Md. — Former Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan announced Friday that he will run for U.S. Senate, giving Republicans a prominent candidate who is well-positioned to run a competitive campaign for the GOP in a state that hasn't had a Republican U.S. senator in 37 years.

The decision marks a surprise turnaround for Hogan, a moderate who had considered a presidential bid. During Hogan's tenure as governor, he became a national figure as one of the rare Republicans willing to criticize Donald Trump. Last month, Hogan stepped down from the leadership of the third-party movement No Labels.

"My fellow Marylanders: you know me," Hogan begins in a video released by his Senate campaign. "For eight years, we proved that the toxic politics that divide our nation need not divide our state."

The former governor added that he decided to run for Senate "not to serve one party, but to try to be part of the solution: to fix our nation's broken politics and fight for Maryland."

"That is what I did as your governor and it's exactly how I'll serve you in the United States Senate," Hogan said.

GOP leaders are eager to pick up the seat as they try to wrest control of the Senate from Democrats, who hold a slim majority and are defending more seats than Republicans in 2024.

In 2022, Hogan rebuffed an aggressive push from Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell and other Republicans to run against Democratic Sen. Chris Van Hollen.

When he announced his decision not to run for Senate two years ago, Hogan expressed confidence he could win. "But just because you can win a race, doesn't mean that's the job you should do if your heart's not in it. And I just didn't see myself being a U.S. senator," he said then.

The former two-term governor who left office early last year will be running for an open seat due to the retirement of Sen. Ben Cardin. Hogan made his Senate bid known just hours before Maryland's filing deadline.

Hogan announced in March that he would not challenge Trump for the GOP's White House nomination. Last month, he squelched speculation of a third-party presidential run and endorsed former United Nations ambassador and South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley for the Republican nomination for president.

The rarely open Maryland Senate seat already has drawn U.S. Rep. David Trone into the Democratic primary, as well as Angela Alsobrooks, the county executive of Prince George's County in the suburbs of the nation's capital. Trone, the wealthy founder of a chain of liquor stores called Total Wine & More, has poured $23 million of his own money into his campaign so far.

Seven Republicans have filed to enter the GOP primary, but none is as well known as the former governor. Hogan was only the second Republican governor to ever win reelection in Maryland, a state where Democrats outnumber Republicans 2-1.

He won his first term as governor in 2014 in an upset, using public campaign financing against a better-funded candidate. Running on fiscal concerns as a moderate Republican businessman, Hogan tapped into voter frustration over a series of tax and fee increases to defeat then-Lt. Gov. Anthony Brown.

Hogan, who had never held elected office before, focused on pocketbook issues from the outset. He lowered tolls, an action he could take without approval from the General Assembly, long controlled by Democrats. But he also faced challenges, including unrest in Baltimore following the death of Freddie Gray in police custody in 2015. Hogan sent the National Guard to help restore order.

In June of that year, Hogan was diagnosed with stage 3 non-Hodgkin's lymphoma but continued working while receiving treatment. He has been in remission since November 2015.

Maryland's last Republican U.S. senator was Charles Mathias, who served in the Senate from 1969 to 1987. Mathias was known as a liberal Republican who often clashed with his party over issues such as the Vietnam War and civil rights.

Copyright 2024 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

The Associated Press