Republican hopes of luring Gov. Larry Hogan into the Senate contest in Maryland are rising as President Joe Biden’s agenda stalls and GOP prospects for reclaiming power in Congress brighten.

Hogan, eyeing a 2024 presidential bid, is cool toward Republican efforts to recruit him into the race against Democratic Sen. Chris Van Hollen, an uphill battle in blue Maryland no matter the breadth of the GOP’s 2022 success. But after Sen. Joe Manchin killed Biden’s signature social spending bill, for which Hogan lauded the West Virginia Democrat, Republicans freshly optimistic about winning the Senate majority are hopeful the governor may warm to the challenge.

“Every Republican with a voice is asking Gov. Hogan to run,” a GOP operative with relationships in the Senate said. “It’s a full-court press because he could win.”

In 2020, Biden defeated former President Donald Trump in Maryland, 65.4% to 32.2%, a large victory margin even by the standards of reliably blue states.

The president’s win of 33.2 percentage points over Trump was his fourth largest of any state in the union where he finished on top and historically large by Maryland standards. Not since 1868 has a Democratic nominee performed as well — and not since 1912 has a Republican nominee performed as poorly. These statistics were simply more stark examples of just how entrenched the Democratic Party’s advantage over the GOP is in the Old Line State.


Democrats are confident that would be enough to derail Hogan should he choose to run for Senate in the midterm elections — despite the generally strong job approval ratings he has enjoyed over six years in office.

“The fact that Hogan would vote to make [Senate Minority Leader] Mitch McConnell [the] majority leader and turn the Senate over to Republicans … would provide voters more than enough reasons to decisively reject his campaign,” said David Bergstein, spokesman for the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee. “If he does run, all he’ll do is join the 40-yearlong history of Republicans losing statewide federal elections in Maryland.”

Democrats argue the governor has more to worry about if he runs for Senate than partisanship working against him. His former chief of staff was indicted on dozens of federal and state charges and is facing criminal charges relating to his conduct in the Hogan administration. Hogan denies knowledge of any wrongdoing by his former aide and has not been implicated in the investigation by law enforcement officials.

To be sure, Hogan won two statewide campaigns in Maryland and has enjoyed broad voter support. The governor’s first victory was in 2014, a Republican wave year, and his reelection came in 2018, a Democratic wave year. And Republicans in the state have stuck with Hogan despite his refusal to vote for Trump in 2016 or 2020 and his position as one of the most outspoken and recognizable GOP critics of the former president in the country.

These qualities make Hogan a particularly attractive Senate candidate for Republicans as they move to put the Democrats on defense in an expanding the playing field and win the single seat they need to recapture the majority. Hogan, who is not categorically rejecting GOP entreaties to join the midterm elections, has lately been flexing his conservative bona fides, giving the party hope he might yet run for Senate.

“Instead of defunding the police, we’re going to refund the police,” Hogan said in October in a tweet promoted by An America United, the outside group supporting his political efforts. Just before Christmas, the governor announced his staunch support for Manchin’s decision to block Biden’s $2.4 trillion “Build Back Better” legislation, putting him on the same page as all 50 Senate Republicans. “I want to thank my friend for his independent leadership,” Hogan tweeted.

Hogan nevertheless has considerable liabilities in a Senate race, no matter how difficult the atmosphere is for Democrats in the midterm elections.

Voters in majority Democratic and Republican states are periodically willing to cross the aisle and support candidates from the opposite party for governor or other statewide offices. They tend to be unwilling to support those very same candidates in federal contests, where national and cultural issues, such as abortion rights and gun rights, weigh heavier on their political choices. Additionally, Van Hollen, 62, is no lightweight.

The hardworking, first-term Democrat is politically savvy and personally appealing. Van Hollen is already using the Republicans’ interest in Hogan to raise money for his reelection campaign. Hogan understands all of these dynamics and is unlikely to risk puncturing his aura as a Republican who has succeeded in Maryland heading into 2024 — the uphill campaign he would prefer when considering whether to run for Senate or seek the White House.

Faced with a similar choice in 2020, when Never Trump Republicans recruited him to primary the 45th president, Hogan declined, saying he was not interested in a political “kamikaze mission” — although not until he allowed the wooing to linger a bit. Josh Kurtz, the founding editor of Maryland Matters, a website covering state government and politics, predicted GOP attempts to convince Hogan to run for Senate would conclude similarly.


“There’s zero doubt that Gov. Hogan is relishing the attention and speculation. But we’ve seen little evidence that he’s gearing up for a campaign, let alone that he has any interest in serving in the Senate,” Kurtz said.

"Gov. Hogan has great political instincts and a top-flight political team, and I'm sure they're spending part of the holidays gaming out what a Senate campaign would look like,” he added. “But I still think it's unlikely that he runs.”