Former Maryland Governor Larry Hogan has launched a surprise bid for the US Senate

Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan launched a last-minute bid for an open U.S. Senate seat in Maryland on Friday, hours before the filing deadline.

Hogan led a deeply Democratic state twice and left office with high approval ratings, but he has ruled out a Senate run in 2022 to pursue a potential presidential bid that he abandoned last year.

In a video announcing his 2024 Senate bid to succeed Democratic Sen. Ben Cardin, Hogan said “Washington is completely broken” because “the willingness to put country before party is so rare.”

Using lines familiar to Maryland residents, he pitched his candidacy as generally anti-partisan, and he described himself as “like most Marylanders.”

“My fellow Marylanders, you know me,” he said. “For eight years we have proven that the toxic politics that divide our nation need not divide our state.”

The only popular and high-profile Republican in the race. Democratic Primary Rep. It has become a two-person race between Rep. David Drone (D-Md.) and Prince George's County Executive Angela Alsobrooks.

Two years ago, Sen. Hogan was favored by national Republicans to challenge Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.) and help the GOP hold the chamber's balance of power, but he declined after months of speculation.

“I don't aspire to be a United States senator, that fact hasn't changed,” Hogan said at the time.

The presidents did not give up.

“He's so popular,” Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell said in an interview Friday, “who would have thought we'd be able to run in a blue state like Maryland? We'll be clear.”

McConnell said the recruitment was a “boost” to Republican efforts to take back the Senate majority. The GOP's top targets are the open seat of West Virginia, where Gov. Jim Justice is running as a Republican and on a slippery slope to victory, and the red states of Montana and Ohio, where Democratic incumbents are looking to hold onto their seats.

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Now Hogan's reversal will test the endurance of his popularity and whether Maryland's Democratic voters are willing to send a viable Republican to the U.S. Senate if it hurts Democrats nationally.

In a state where registered Democrats outnumber registered Republicans by 2 to 1, Hogan's electoral victory hinges on building a coalition: party loyalists, plenty of independents and some Democrats willing to cross party lines.

The Maryland Republican Party, which he leads, has lost many of its pro-Hogan leaders since his tenure, replacing supporters of former President Donald Trump, who Hogan has been a vocal critic of for years.

He is the successor of the Republican Governor-elect, Kelly M. Schulz lost the 2022 primary to far-right Dan Cox, who was close to Trump, and lost the general to Gov. Wes Moore (D) by more than 32 percent. points.

Cox is now in a crowded field seeking the Republican nomination for Maryland's most competitive congressional district, which straddles conservative Western Maryland.

Democrats criticized Hogan's nomination as an opportunity for Republicans to seize more power in Washington.

“A vote for Republican Larry Hogan is a vote to make Mitch McConnell majority leader and turn the Senate over to Republicans so they can pass a national abortion ban. Democrats have won statewide federal elections in Maryland for 44 years, and 2024 will be no different,” the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee said in a news release. Spokesperson Maeve Coyle said in a statement.

Deron and Allsbrooks, locked in their own high-profile battle for the Democratic nomination, each quickly attacked Hogan.

“Marylanders are tired of the empty promises of career politicians like Larry Hogan,” said Drone, a three-term congressman. “He talks about putting politics aside, but has spent his entire tenure as governor on partisan attacks with bad policy,” Drone said, pointing to “the ways Hogan has failed the city of Baltimore.”

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And Brooks posted on X, “Maryland can't send an anti-Republican to the US Senate.”

Hogan has infuriated Maryland Democrats for years by calling abortion a settled law in Maryland — and his ability to ignore divisive social issues — focusing on pocketbook issues and criticizing politicians as nonpartisan.

Since leaving office a year ago, he has co-chaired the centrist group No Labels, which is trying to get presidential candidates on the ballot statewide to replace Presidents Biden and Trump.

He resigned as head of the organization in December.

Staff writer Liz Goodwin contributed to this report.

This is a developing story and will be updated.

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