While Liberalism Slept: How Larry Hogan And the MDGOP Are Spreading the Right Message–And Winning

If you were anywhere in Prince George’s County during the 2014 Gubernatorial Election, odds are that you would have spotted, or heard from, a guy named Jim Reeder.


Jim Reeder, of Laurel, believed early on in the primary season that Larry Hogan was the best chance for Republicans to win the Governor’s race against the democratic heir apparent and then Lt. Governor, Anthony Brown.


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That belief fueled Reeder’s commitment to volunteer often and aggressively for Mr. Hogan in Prince George’s County and in the Campaign’s Annapolis headquarters.  When Hogan won the 2014 Primary, Reeder continued to volunteer.


“During the General Election, with Tom Slezak [Hogan’s PG County Coordinator], we delivered many yard signs all over Prince George’s County.  I also staffed tables at fairs and festivals, and participated in Hogan’s campaign phone program,” said Reeder, who himself was also elected to office in 2014 as a member of the Prince George’s County Republican Central Committee representing District 21.

People have been shown that you can change the culture of Annapolis.

In addition to serving on the Republican Central Committee, Reeder is a member of the Maryland Real Estate Commission, following an appointment by Governor Hogan.


Reeder believes that Hogan’s win last year has given people new found excitement and motivation to get involved in the political process.


“I feel that people are energized that government can change for the better.  People seem to have a renewed interest in governance and politics.  People have been shown that you can change the culture of Annapolis.”

NJ Governor Chris Christie campaigning with Larry Hogan in Maryland shortly before Election Day 2014. Photo by Rob Windley.

NJ Governor Chris Christie campaigning with Larry Hogan in Maryland shortly before Election Day 2014. Photo by Rob Windley.

Heather Olsen, Chair of the Prince George’s County Republican Central Committee, agrees, pointing out that, as a result of Hogan’s win last year, many republicans now feel that what was once impossible is now possible.


“When I tell people [Hogan] won 11 precincts in the County, they start to wonder what else we can accomplish.”


Since the 2014 Election, Olsen has seen a boost in the number of republicans that are stepping up to run for various offices, from the municipal level to the federal level.


Olsen adds that because of Hogan’s win and strong first year of governance, democrats within Prince George’s County take the PGGOP more seriously.


“Before the Governor was elected, if I mentioned my role as PGGOP Chair, the response was usually some kind of joke like, ‘You mean there is a Republican Party in Prince George’s?’  Now it’s more likely to be, ‘Might we be able to work together on x?’”


But the Democrats realizing that they need to take the Republicans more seriously is not just limited to democrats within Prince George’s County.


Diana Waterman, Chair of the Maryland Republican Party, noted that Hogan’s win has changed perception for both Republicans and Democrats.


“Where the Democrats also took the outcome for granted, they had their world turned upside down”, Waterman says.


Waterman believes that the biggest impact that Hogan’s victory has had on Republicans in Maryland is hope.


“‘Everyone’ said that a Republican couldn’t win Statewide”, says Waterman, “‘Everyone’ said that a Republican couldn’t make gains in places like Baltimore City.  The Governor’s election showed that ‘everyone’ was wrong.  The right candidate, with the right message and the right campaign, can crack that nut.”


Waterman says that there is now hope among republican candidates and voters in democratic strongholds around Maryland.


“Voters in those democratic strongholds felt hopeless…why bother voting, the Democrat always won”, added Waterman.  “Recruiting candidates was a challenge because they often felt the outcome was pre-determined.  Governor Hogan’s win showed Republicans that it is not hopeless.”

The right candidate, with the right message and the right campaign, can crack that nut.

Waterman noted recent victories at the municipality level in Bowie and Salisbury, with wins by republicans Michael Esteve and Muir Boda in their respective non-partisan races.


Waterman points out that Governor Hogan’s first year of successful governance has greatly benefited the Maryland Republican Party in various ways, such as in grassroots efforts, candidate recruitment, and fundraising.


Waterman cites Governor Hogan’s commitment to keep his campaign promises as the root of his success.


“The Governor has governed on the issues he campaigned on—he has kept his campaign promises taking the steps to make Maryland more business friendly which in turn helps promote private sector job growth which in turn creates jobs that help all Marylanders,” she said.  “[Hogan] has taken concrete steps to fix the problems with the regulatory situation in our State, with unfair redistricting in our State, and repealing the Rain Tax mandate, just to name a few things.”


Waterman said that the Governor demonstrated true leadership during the Baltimore Riots and that he continues to show that he cares about Baltimore City residents and all Marylanders.


Nicolee Ambrose, Maryland Republican National Committeewoman, said that it’s been exciting to see the number of Democrats who have reached out in an effort to get involved.


“It’s safe to say that we share the same goals of good governance, lower taxes, and making Maryland an affordable state to live where people can find jobs”, Ambrose said.  “Although once considered ‘American Values’, I would suggest these have become ‘Republican Values’”.


Ambrose points to three main tasks for Republicans to undertake in order to make even more gains: Voter registration, outreach, and messaging.

Maryland Republican National Committeewoman Nicolee Ambrose with Alveda King, Activist and Niece of Dr. Martin Luther King, and others.

Maryland Republican National Committeewoman Nicolee Ambrose (right) with Alveda King (left), Activist and niece of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., and others in Baltimore. Photo by Phil Tran.

Regarding voter registration, Ambrose says that with two of the three elected governors of Maryland in the 21st Century being Republicans, no one can claim any longer that Maryland is a solid Democratic state.  “The light is shining at the end of the tunnel”, she said, “And Democrats and Independents who agree with us on issues should now feel safe to register as Republicans.”


Ambrose also stressed the importance of outreach by Republicans on all levels—from the Governor’s Office to local Republican clubs—to be as communicative and as welcoming as possible to those interested in getting involved.


Referring to the on point messaging of the 2014 Election, Ambrose said, “Governor Hogan did a brilliant job of sticking to his message…and with all his hard work on Change Maryland.  He set a great example of how to win at all levels in a state like Maryland.”


In addition to County and State GOP Officials seeing Republican successes throughout the State, there have also been Republican gains in the Maryland General Assembly.

Larry Hogan’s leadership and issues focused campaign certainly had a huge impact on our members’ success.

House Minority Leader Nic Kipke (R-District 31B), said that Republicans gained seven seats in the 2014 Election, despite the fact that many thought the Party would lose seats due to redistricting.  Pointing out that Republicans now hold an historic high of fifty seats, Kipke said, “Larry Hogan’s leadership and issues focused campaign certainly had a huge impact on our members’ success.”


Asked about opportunities in Annapolis for Republicans and Democrats to work together,  Kipke, who has served in the House of Delegates since 2007, referred to the Governor’s strong budget authority and his veto power as ways to pressure legislators to become less partisan.


Kipke says that he believes the people of Maryland want balance in the General Assembly, adding, “One party rule has not served our citizens well and if we continue to produce results for taxpayers I believe next election we will have even greater success.”

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