Larry Hogan makes U.S. Senate race in Maryland more competitive

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MARYLAND (DC News Now) — Larry Hogan said repeatedly to anyone who would listen that he wasn’t running for an open U.S. Senate seat in Maryland this year.

The former and popular two-term Republican governor announced last week that he’s changed his mind and will vie for the primary nomination. It was a surprise announcement that came just hours before the deadline to formally launch a campaign.

At least one political expert said that while Hogan is immensely popular in Maryland, the state still leans heavily blue. Two Democrats – U.S. Rep. David Trone and Prince George’s County Executive Angela Alsobrooks – are vying for the Democratic nomination.

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“Maryland is a heavily Democratic state. So it will be close. And now that Hogan is in it, competitive,” said Larry Sabato, the founder and director of the Center for Politics at the University of Virginia. “But that doesn’t mean that Hogan will win. There are two strong Democratic candidates, Trone and Alsobrooks. Either one of them would put up a strong battle against Hogan given the lean of the state.

National Republican leaders have been trying to recruit Hogan for years to run for a Senate seat that could tip control of the body in their favor.

The former two-term governor flirted with running for president both as a Republican and under an independent “no parties” label but declined to pull the trigger.

Sabato said that despite Hogan’s entry into the race, he still calculates a tough road for the former governor.

“Remember, running for the Senate is very different than running for governor. Governor is a less ideological position,” he said. “The Senate is all about ideology and party. So that will be the choice facing Marylanders. And my guess is they would lean more to picking a Democrat because they are so Democratic.”

The Democratic and Republican primaries are May 14.

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