ANNAPOLIS, Md. (AP) — Republican Larry Hogan announced on Tuesday that he is running for governor of Maryland, though he postponed an evening event with supporters at a waterside crab house until next week due to a snow storm.
Hogan, who served as the appointments secretary in former Republican Gov. Robert Ehrlich's cabinet from 2003 to 2007, said in an interview at his campaign headquarters in Annapolis that he understands it will be an uphill battle to win the governorship in a state where registered Democrats outnumber Republicans by a 2-1 margin. Still, Hogan said he is confident the state is ready for a change of direction, similar to when Ehrlich was elected the state's first Republican governor in 36 years.
"I know a lot of people seem to think it's nearly impossible, but I happen to believe that the mood of the electorate is at a point where they really do want to see some change," Hogan said. "I think people are willing to put aside partisanship and actually vote for the person they think is going to be the best one to handle the job."
The 57-year-old real estate broker has been leading a political organization called Change Maryland, focusing on economic issues he plans to make a main part of his campaign. Hogan said he is confident economic concerns are foremost in the minds of voters after the Great Recession tax increases during Democratic Gov. Martin O'Malley's administration.
"I think most people are focused on pocketbook issues," Hogan said.
Hogan described himself as a businessman who has and understanding of how state government works from his experience in helping appoint people to positions on all three branches of state government.
Hogan will be joining a Republican field including Harford County Executive David Craig, Del. Ron George, of Anne Arundel County and Charles County businessman Charles Lollar, who have been campaigning for months. Hogan held a rally in November to tell supporters he planned to run, but he waited to fully enter the race. He did not attend a televised debate last week that included Craig, George, Lollar and Brian Vaeth, who also is seeking the GOP nomination.
Democratic candidates include Lt. Gov. Anthony Brown, Attorney General Doug Gansler and Del. Heather Mizeur.
Campaign fundraising reports released week showed Democrats have a huge lead in fundraising so far, with Brown holding about $7 million cash on hand and Gansler with $6.3 million. Republicans were far behind, with Craig leading them with $154,577.
"I feel confident that we'll be able to raise the money necessary to get our message out and to run a competitive race and put us in position to give us a chance to win, but I'm not sure that there's anyway that we'll really match them dollar for dollar or that we'll need to," Hogan said.