Maryland Democrats have often chided Republican Gov. Larry Hogan as a complicit ally of the Trump administration — a criticism echoed during a recent conference call with party officials regarding Hogan’s silence on President Trump’s Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh.
“We cannot sit on our hands and say, ‘That’s not our problem,’” said Ben Jealous, former NAACP president and Democratic gubernatorial nominee to challenge Hogan in the general election. “We need courageous leadership on the state level that’s committed to standing up for Marylander’s rights. Who’s on the Supreme Court matters for the future of our state.”
Jealous joined six other Democratic state, union and education officials Friday, July 13 to challenge Hogan for not speaking out against Kavanaugh’s conservative record, which includes work as an aide to former President George W. Bush and working with independent counsel Kenneth Starr to impeach former President Bill Clinton nearly 20 years ago.
Kavanaugh, who was nominated by Trump on July 9, must first be confirmed by the Senate before replacing 81-year-old Justice Anthony Kennedy, who is set to retire at the end of the month.
Kavanaugh, 53, served as U.S. District Court judge since 2006. Democrats and liberal activists worry his appointment could help overturn Roe vs. Wade, which ruled in 1973 a woman has the right to privacy over medical decisions, even abortion.
“Women make up 52 percent of the population in Maryland,” said Delegate Joseline Pena-Melñyk (D-District 21) of College Park. “By him not speaking, [Hogan is] showing us what he truly thinks about the female reproductive rights. We’re calling on Larry Hogan to stand up for Marylanders that Brett Kavanaugh does not reflect our values.”
The Hogan campaign released a statement Friday that criticized Jealous’ focus on what happens in the nation’s capital.
“At least his rhetoric about the U.S. Supreme Court doesn’t come with a multibillion-dollar middle-class tax increase like most of his ideas,” said Hogan spokesman Scott Sloofman. “Gov. Hogan is focused on his job governing the state of Maryland where he is providing bipartisan leadership and getting good things accomplished for the people of our state.”
Todd Eberly, political science professor at St. Mary’s College in St. Mary’s, Maryland, said Kavanaugh’s record would be approved by past Republican presidents.
Eberly said high-ranking Democrats should try and entice moderate Democrats and independents to vote for Jealous instead of attempting to connect Hogan to Trump, pointing out documented evidence of Hogan speaking out against the president and certain administration policies.
Hogan, who said he didn’t endorse Trump’s 2016 campaign, broke with the president this year to sign legislation approved by the Maryland General Assembly to ban bump stocks, a device that enables a gun to replicate an automatic weapon and increase the number of rounds fired.
“I would call it one of the least-thought-out strategies in quite some time,” Eberly said about Democrats’ attempt to tie Hogan to Trump. “This is a political strategy. It’s what [high-ranking Democrats] think they have to do in order to motivate their voters.”
With that being said, Democrats, union leaders and education advocates will aggressively back Jealous and continue to connect Hogan with the Trump administration.
Betty Weller, president of the state Education Association, said Hogan’s education policies align with U.S. Education Secretary Betsy DeVos when it comes to using public money for private and religious schools.
“Larry Hogan has invited Betsy DeVos into our state … welcoming her anti-public school agenda with open arms against the will of Marylanders,” Weller said on the conference call. “Larry Hogan needs to start standing up for Maryland students, Maryland educators and Maryland parents … that he does not support Brett Kavanaugh’s nomination.”