Hogan Closes the Deal; At Least it Should be Closed

Originally posted at Maryland Reporter.

First, it should be pointed out that contrary to past years’ debates, the three major gubernatorial debates were run nearly as perfectly as is humanly possible.  Except for The Washington Post’s Jenna Johnson, whose deplorable one-sidedness in favor of Lt. Gov. Brown in debate No. 2 was off the charts, the moderators in all three debates were utterly disinterested and important-issue-focused.  The third debate was another splendidly-run debate by Jason Newton, Deborah Weiner, Steve Hammond and Jeff Bowers.

It was lively, punctiliously fair, and allowed both candidates to declaim on the crucial issues.

I thought going into this final debate that Larry Hogan had to focus specifically on the issues that he thought warranted Marylanders’ votes.

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On WBAL radio’s Jimmy Mathis show the morning of the debate, I suggested the following: Larry Hogan should take a chapter out of John F. Kennedy’s 1960 campaign and debate book, and list all of the economic failings of the O’Malley-Brown Administration — including the rise in taxation and spending and number of taxes, the exit of Maryland taxpayers and the rise in unemployment despite the federal jobs in the state —  and then say “We can do better.”

At which point he, Hogan, should state exactly what changes he would fight for and explain why they would relieve these seminal problems.  That is almost precisely what he did.

In doing so, I said this debate could represent the type of closure to a campaign that might lead to the type of victory that Ronald Reagan enjoyed in 1980 when, like in Maryland in 2014, people didn’t know the Republican nominee, were a little wary of how tough he could be, but were willing to take a chance to reverse the course of the misery index (unemployment plus inflation) and huge foreign policy failure as well.

Hogan also said accurately that there were ongoing investigations of the healthcare situation and should have added that it is significant that the Maryland legislature won’t investigate it until after the election.

Repeatedly, Hogan made clear the issues that he thought argued for his election, and, repeatedly, his eloquent but obfuscating opponent, Lt. Gov. Brown, argued irrelevant theses and ignored charges.

Brown emphasized pre-K with no evidence that it improves academic performance or that Maryland can afford it.

Hogan emphasized the loss of $288 million due to the healthcare run-up, and Brown said that lots of people were to blame, including himself,  but not himself significantly.

Brown could name no significant differences between him and Gov. Martin O’Malley, but said that some type of executive privilege rendered him unable to discuss much of it. He never answered charges concerning the consequential siphoning of money from the transportation fund.

Brown again argued that since Hogan appointed the Board of Regents that he was somehow responsible for tuition hikes. Does he really believe that?

Often when Brown gave an answer completely off-topic, the questioners gently asked him the question again – exactly.  Perfectly fair and appropriate.

If the people of Maryland elect Lt. Gov. Brown and reject Mr. Hogan, it will not be attributable to the latter’s debate inadequacies.  Nor will it be due to the false and irrelevant answers to questions provided by Brown, however eloquently.

It will be due to Democratic fealty, insufficiently affected by reasonable discourse.



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