Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan, R-Md., spoke with Public Policy professor Barry Rabe to an audience of more than 100 people on a YouTube livestream in the first Ford School of Public Policy “Policy Talk” of the 2020-21 academic year. The pair discussed Hogan’s recently released book and his experience working in Maryland. 

Though Hogan is a Republican, Maryland has roughly twice as many Democrats compared to Republican voters, and the state legislature is controlled by Democrats. Hogan, who was first elected in 2014, became the second Republican governor ever to be reelected in the state in 2018. He was also elected to the Executive Committee of the National Governors Association last year. 

Rabe asked Hogan about the bipartisan relationship between Hogan and his Democratic colleagues, and why Hogan often publicly disagrees with President Donald Trump.

Hogan said he is interested in finding good policy solutions rather than winning partisan arguments. 

“I stood up and spoke out when I disagreed with the president, which a lot of people didn't,” Hogan said. “I think the reason why it doesn’t happen more often is (politicians are) afraid. I mean, they don't want to be tweeted about, they wouldn't want to be attacked by the base of the party, they don’t want to have somebody run against them in a primary.” 

LSA senior Jackson Hawkins said he attended the event because he wanted to hear a moderate Republican’s perspective on current, divisive issues. Hawkins said he thinks Hogan is a model for how politicians can work to bring the country together. 

“The polarization of the Democratic and Republican (parties) forces people in the middle to choose one side over the other,” Hawkins said. “Many moderate Republicans are faced with the difficult decision of abandoning their politics and joining the Democrats or abandoning their morals and joining Team Trump. Larry Hogan is proof that it is possible to remain a moderate Republican and going forward, I hope other politicians follow his lead and give voters the opportunity to bring our country back together and reconcile our differences.” 

Rabe also asked Hogan about policing, both because of the recent Black Lives Matter protests sparked by the killing of George Floyd in May and because of the 2015 protests after the murder of Freddie Gray.

Hogan said he defused tense situations by engaging in conversation with protestors and understanding their perspective. 

“We tried our best to stop the violence while continuing to protect the peaceful protesters and the citizens of Baltimore,” Hogan said. “And I went and walked the streets of Baltimore for a solid week, meeting with community leaders, going to Freddie Gray’s neighborhood, walking the streets and meeting with the NAACP (National Association for the Advancement of Colored People) and meeting with faith-based leaders. My goal was to stop the violence while trying to listen to the real concerns and to start a dialogue.”

Rabe asked about Maryland’s outbreaks of COVID-19. He asked Hogan how he worked with the federal government on managing the spread of the illness — in particular, why Hogan negotiated with South Korea to secure tests in April. 

“There’s also a unique wrinkle in your case where you actually engage in foreign diplomacy, you negotiate with a foreign government, you visit South Korea,” Rabe said.

Hogan said the lack of a centralized federal response and supplies prompted him to  negotiate with a foreign government to help control the outbreaks in Maryland. 

“It was an unusual circumstance, to say the least,” Hogan said. “But again, we were in this crisis. Because of the failures of the administration … each state was out there on their own, trying to compete with one another and with the federal government and with other countries around the world for these things that were not easily attainable.”

Near the end of the event, Rabe presented questions from audience members. One audience member asked if Hogan had advice for students interested in public policy. 

Hogan revisited the discussion of bipartisanship from the beginning of the event. He expressed hope that young people are more interested in bipartisan policy than their predecessors. 

“I hope that you have a lot of students that are (interested in non-partisan policy solutions) because that’s what we desperately need in America,” Hogan said. “And the young people today, I'm hoping, are willing to look at things (in that way). I think that many of them are. And I think (bipartisanship) really is the solution and we've proven in Maryland that it can be done. And if we can do it here, there’s probably almost nowhere it can’t be accomplished.” 

Daily Staff Reporter Emma Ruberg can be reached at eruberg@umich.edu. 

 

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