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Maryland Democrats haven't beaten Larry Hogan in a decade by highlighting his positions on abortion. Will it work in 2024?

Jeff Barker, The Baltimore Sun on

Published in Political News

BALTIMORE -- The television ad displayed a photo of an unsmiling Larry Hogan alongside oversized words that the Republican “opposes a woman’s right to choose.”

The 30-second, Democratic-produced commercial aimed to remind voters of anti-abortion statements made by Hogan, 67, more than 30 years earlier.

It’s the sort of attack ad that could appear this year as Maryland Democrats seek to derail Hogan’s U.S. Senate candidacy.

Except that the ad is from the 2014 gubernatorial campaign. Hogan, who said the “disgraceful” spot misrepresented his position, went on to defeat Democrat Anthony Brown, now Maryland’s attorney general, and serve the first of his two four-year terms in Annapolis.

Ten years later, Democrats are betting that the political climate has changed in their favor — that the U.S. Supreme Court’s 2022 overturning of the Roe v. Wade decision’s abortion protections has generated new urgency in the abortion rights movement and galvanized its voters.

The Senate campaigns of Prince George’s County Executive Angela Alsobrooks and U.S. Rep. David Trone — who are vying for the Democratic nomination in the May 14 primary — are going after not only Hogan’s abortion record as governor, but his lesser-known positions as a congressional candidate in 1981 and 1992.

 

Hogan spokesman Mike Ricci said Thursday that the strategy amounted to “scare tactics” that “will once again flop and fall flat.”

Trone and Alsobrooks are each staunch abortion rights supporters. Trone voted for legislation in 2022 — it did not pass — to codify abortion rights into federal law. Alsobrooks has pledged to immediately promote similar legislation, if elected to Congress. Hogan says he personally opposes abortion, but never sought to overturn Maryland law protecting the procedure.

In his 1981 campaign in the 5th Congressional District, a 24-year-old Hogan — according to three newspaper accounts — supported an anti-abortion, “human life” proposal that would give the unborn civil rights from the time of fertilization. Congress did not approve that proposed Constitutional amendment.

In a 1992 campaign for the same seat — once held by his father, Larry Hogan Sr. — Hogan wrote in a Prince George’s Journal voters’ guide that he backed abortion restrictions such as a 24-hour waiting period and counseling from a doctor about alternatives to an abortion.

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