The Maryland governor’s race between Gov. Larry Hogan (R) and Democratic nominee Ben Jealous revved up on Friday — more than three months before Election Day — with attack ads, appearances and appeals.
The Republican Governors Association started airing TV ads describing Jealous, a former president of the NAACP, as a “big spender who’ll raise your taxes.” Jealous and his Democratic supporters held a news conference call criticizing Hogan for not weighing in on President Trump’s nomination of federal judge Brett M. Kavanaugh to the U.S. Supreme Court. And Hogan made a round of appearances on Baltimore radio and television touting his record and taking jabs at Jealous’s proposals, including a single-payer health-care system.
The flurry of activity surrounding the election between Hogan, who is trying to become the second Republican governor in 60 years to win reelection in Maryland, and Jealous, who is vying to become the state’s first African American governor, comes just weeks after Jealous won the Democratic nomination against Prince George’s County Executive Rushern L. Baker III, the party establishment favorite.
The campaign activity also offers a glimpse of how the race could develop over the next several months. Hogan is trying to focus the discussions around Maryland issues and how, he says, Jealous would move the state backward, while Jealous and his supporters try to steer the conversation to Trump and the impact his presidency could have on the state and its residents.
“Our nominee is not going to let Larry Hogan hide,” Kathleen Matthews, the chair of the state Democratic Party, said during the call to urge the governor to denounce Kavanaugh’s nomination. “Over the past three years, Larry Hogan has grown his popularity by staying under the radar . . . over the next three months, he is going to have to explain where he really is.”
In addition to Matthews, Jealous was joined by Del. Joseline Peña Melnyk (D-Prince George’s), an environmentalist and union leader who said Hogan needs to address what is happening in Washington because it affects protections for women, workers and the environment.
Earlier this week during an appearance on WBAL radio, Hogan said Jealous appears more suited to “running for Congress or senator or something else.” He said it is “not the job of the governor” to talk about what the president or Congress is doing.
“The job of governor doesn’t have much to do with what’s going on in Washington, but this guy doesn’t know a lot about Maryland or the Maryland state government or budget, so he likes to talk about far-left issues that he thinks he can turn into a national race,” Hogan said.
He repeated the idea on Friday during appearances on WBAL radio and a Fox television station in Baltimore.
Meanwhile, the national Republican Governor’s Association ran its first ad for Hogan in this race. Its attack ads, casting Jealous as a tax-and-spend Democrat, will continue airing across the state over the next month.