Mitch McConnell Serpent-Talking Maryland GOP Gov Larry Hogan Into Running For Senate
Democrats have no room to spare with their Senate majority, and although we’d all love it if they flipped more seats this year so we don’t have to care about Joe Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema, the reality is many of our pickup opportunities are reaches, such as Ohio and Florida, both of which Joe Biden lost in 2020. Worse, we’re on the defensive in Nevada, Georgia, Arizona, and now possibly Maryland.
You read correctly: Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell has his beady little eyes set on Maryland, the state Biden carried by 33 points. It makes no sense. Has McConnell’s evil finally pulled him into the pits of madness? Well, maybe not yet: McConnell thinks Maryland GOP Governor Larry Hogan could defeat incumbent Democratic Senator Chris Van Hollen, who you just realized existed. That’s what happens when you don’t play dice with democracy like Manchin and Sinema. You never get booked on “Meet the Press.”
Here’s some recent footage of Senator Van Hollen. He’s a nice guy who should remain in office.
Larry Hogan is finishing his second term as governor and is unable to run for reelection. He’s proven he can win statewide as a Republican in a heavily Democratic state, but that’s because he effectively passes himself off as a moderate. His COVID-19 policies were significantly less sociopathic than other Republican governors. He’s criticized Donald Trump’s pandemic response and has rejected the Big Lie. He’s even dared suggest January 6 wasn’t a great day in America.
This, of course, means he’s persona non grata in the Republican Party that exists outside an MSNBC panel. But McConnell wants his gavel back, so he’s ramped up the politics of persuasion. It’s even become a family affair: Former Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao, who willingly married McConnell, has joined the "Draft Hogan" effort. This includes Senate Republicans the media still laughably describe as “moderate,” such as giant fraud and partisan hack Susan Collins. Get this: They’ve told Hogan, presumably with straight faces, that his “centrist brand of politics would be welcome in a chamber riven with partisanship.”
Mitch McConnell perhaps single-handedly turned the Senate into a partisan cesspool, and now, any Republican who takes the mildest stand against MAGA is labeled a RINO traitor. The Nebraska County GOP censured Ben Sasse because he voted to remove Trump from office last year.
Chao has tried to coax Hogan into joining the Senate like it’s an exclusive country club, which it is.
With Hogan unpersuaded by McConnell’s pitches, Chao encouraged a Senate bid during a private lunch with Hogan’s wife in the Maryland governor’s mansion, which Hogan briefly attended. Chao was scheduled to bring her father to another private lunch with Mrs. Hogan, although it was canceled due to a COVID-19 concern.
During the lunch, Chao emphasized the sense of community on Capitol Hill with the other senators’ families. She also appealed to Mrs. Hogan’s sense of patriotism, pitching the Senate as a great way for the Hogans to serve their country. Chao and Yumi Hogan, both prominent Asian Americans, were friends before the Senate race became a focus.
No, I don’t think the best way the Hogans can “serve their country” is to hand the Senate back to a corrupt, anti-democratic death cult. I’d suggest buying war bonds.
Steve Bullock was a successful two-term Democratic governor from Montana, but he failed to translate that into a Senate victory in 2020. Senate races are far more nationalized now, and even after Glenn Youngkin’s not-so-upset victory in Virginia, it’s not likely that Maryland voters would send a Republican to the Senate, even if he’s not Josh Hawley.
Nonetheless, Maryland Democrats shouldn’t sleep on the threat. There’s also no harm in showing Chris Van Hollen some love.
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Stephen Robinson is a writer and social kibbitzer based in Portland, Oregon. He writes reviews for the A.V. Club and make believe for Cafe Nordo, an immersive theatre space in Seattle. He's also on the board of the Portland Playhouse theatre. His son describes him as a “play typer guy."