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Would It Make Sense For Larry Hogan to Primary Trump?

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A Politico report this morning about Maryland Governor Larry Hogan – including a scheduled trip to Iowa in March – has people buzzing about whether Hogan will launch a primary challenge to President Trump in 2020. Hogan, prudently, is coy on the subject, but let’s assume for the sake of argument that he actually decided to run. Would it make sense for Hogan to do that?

To answer that question, you first have to ask what “make sense” means. There are three possible reasons to run for president, and while many candidates have more than one such reason, you really only need one. One, you think you can win the nomination. Two, you think there is something that needs to be said, a message that won’t get heard unless you run. Three, you think your career will be advanced by having run.

On the first count, I don’t think Hogan has much chance of winning the nomination, but if he was ever going to run, 2020 is the best shot he would ever get. Hogan has been remarkably politically successful as governor of deep-blue Maryland, regularly ranking as one of the two most popular governors in the country (a January 2019 Morning Consult poll has his approval rating at 68%, second only to Massachusetts’ Charlie Baker), and he was re-elected by a 12-point margin with 55.4% of the vote in 2018. Like Chris Christie in 2012, that means his political moment would probably be now and not later even under normal circumstances, and his ability as a blue-state star and cancer survivor to present a calm, sane, no-drama get-it-done contrast to Trump only accentuates that. Hogan’s stock is as high as it will get, and at 62, he’s not a guy who’s likely to see a better moment return a decade or two later.

In a national election, however, Hogan’s status as a pragmatic, tax-cutting, infrastructure-building moderate would matter less than his moderate-to-liberal........

© National Review