Former Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan, who left office as one of the few prominent Republican critics of former President Donald Trump, will run for U.S. Senate in his home state.
Hogan announced his plans in a video posted to social media Friday, hours before the filing deadline in the race.
Hogan immediately becomes the front-runner for his party’s nomination, as possibly the only Republican in the state who could make the race to replace retiring Democratic Sen. Ben Cardin competitive.
While Democratic Gov. Wes Moore won his election in 2022 with more than 64% of the vote, he did so against a candidate from the party’s right flank. Hogan won two terms in the blue state, including a 12 point win in 2018, two years after Democrat Hillary Clinton won the state at the presidential level by almost 27 points.
But it will still be an uphill climb for the Republican, and there’s no shortage of prominent Democrats running for the seat.
Rep. David Trone, D-Md., has spent more than $19 million on ads so far in the race as he looks for a promotion to the upper chamber. He’s touting the endorsements of dozens of his House colleagues, including House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries.
Trone is running against Prince George’s County Executive Angela Alsobrooks, whose campaign has struggled in the early months of the primary, though she has earned the endorsement of Gov. Moore, the state’s Senate president Bill Ferguson, the state’s Speaker of the House Adrienne Jones and Sens. Chris Van Hollen of Maryland, Cory Booker of New Jersey, Kirsten Gillibrand of New York, Raphael Warnock of Georgia and others.
Shortly after the news broke, Van Hollen, told reporters that Democrats shouldn’t take Hogan’s bid lightly, but that he remains “confident that the Democratic nominee will prevail.”
Hogan’s electoral success in Maryland is unique for a Republican. In 2018 he became the first GOP governor in 64 years to win a second term. He did so by presenting himself as a more centrist Republican resistant to Trump’s rightward pull on the party.
In 2016, Hogan wrote in his father — a former Maryland congressman who was among the first Republicans to call for President Richard Nixon’s impeachment during Watergate — when casting a vote for president. In 2020, Hogan said he voted for Ronald Reagan.
Until recently, Hogan had a leadership role with No Labels, the group interested in pushing a bipartisan, third-party presidential ticket in 2024, prompting speculation about his own political plans. He then endorsed former U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley over Trump for this year’s GOP presidential nomination.
In an interview last month with NBC News, Hogan said he was concerned about the future of the party if Trump won the nomination and another term in the White House. He said he was pondering his own role in the party and acknowledged that independent-minded, anti-Trump Republicans like him could be left without a political home if Haley falls short of denying the former president the nomination.
“That’s the million dollar question that I’m not sure I have the answer to,” Hogan said then. “A lot of people are trying to figure that out. It’s a long ways to figuring out who the nominee will be and a long ways until November.”
Seven other Republicans have filed to run for Senate in Maryland.