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'I'm torn': Hogan-Trump split is putting some Maryland GOP voters on the spot

Jeff Barker, The Baltimore Sun on

Published in Political News

BALTIMORE — Larry Hogan and Donald Trump will appear in November for the first time together on Maryland’s ballot, but they won’t necessarily share equal space in the hearts of Republicans in counties like Dorchester, which voted by double digits for Trump in the last two presidential elections.

“This is Trump Country,” said Ted Bryant, 67, who builds and sells small aircraft in the water-oriented Eastern Shore county and is a member of its Republican central committee.

Bryant, 67, is hoping his county is large enough — in the big-tent sense — to not only back Trump for president again, but to also support the U.S. Senate candidacy of Hogan, the Republican former two-term governor who has crusaded against Trump’s hold on the party. It’s a hope shared by many GOP leaders on the Shore and other conservative bastions in Maryland.

Since Democrats enjoy a more than 2-1 voter registration advantage in the state, Hogan must capture a significant number of Democrats and unaffiliated voters to win. But he must do so without sacrificing large chunks of his party’s base in regions like the Eastern Shore and Western Maryland, where the GOP holds sway.

“I’m torn,” Bryant said in an interview Wednesday. “Larry won the primary, so we need to get behind him. But the majority of people, they’re not too crazy about Hogan. Speaking on my own behalf, there are some plusses with Larry, but I’m really down about the no support for Trump.”

Politics may be about issues, but it’s also about loyalties. Voters such as Bryant are reluctant to sacrifice those party loyalties at the expense of personal politics.

 

After winning the May 14 Republican primary, Hogan began his general election campaign against Democratic Prince George’s County Executive Angela Alsobrooks by immediately resuming his courtship of Democratic voters. The November winner of the seat held by the retiring Democrat Ben Cardin will help decide which party claims the Senate majority. Hogan quickly unveiled a “Democrats for Hogan” video featuring a montage of compliments that prominent Democrats, including Alsobrooks and Gov. Wes Moore, previously gave him. And he came out in support of codifying abortion access in federal law, a change from his previous position.

But by last weekend, he was talking with state Republicans at their spring convention in Hagerstown, where the theme was “Unity for Victory.” And local GOP officials such as Bryant and Julie Jo Quick, who chairs the Caroline County Republican Central Committee, began the hard work of trying to make sure red county voters stay in the fold.

Quick, 53, said her self-assigned summer mandate is to persuade Republican voters to set aside any animosity they may harbor against Hogan or Trump and vote for both men in November.

“The bottom line is people in Caroline County understand that if we want to help President Trump do what he needs to, he needs a Senate majority,” she said.

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