In an earlier article, we discussed a dozen Republicans who might challenge Donald Trump in 2020. But we now have a new possible challenger. That’s Larry Hogan, a Republican Governor who was easily re-elected in the very “blue” Maryland. Back in 2016, he said he wouldn’t vote for Trump, according to NewsMax. Could he be planning to battle Trump directly?
Politico thinks he might.
The second-term Maryland governor has been implicitly going after Trump in speeches, meeting with Never Trump Republicans, and planning a March trip to Iowa as vice chair of the National Governors Association.
It’s all fueling speculation that Hogan, a 62-year-old cancer survivor who coasted to reelection in liberal Maryland and remains one of the most popular governors in the country, is open to the prospect of a long-shot primary challenge to the incumbent president. . .
Hogan used his inaugural address on Wednesday to repudiate the “debilitating politics” of Washington — and to raise the specter of impeachment. He recalled how his father, former Rep. Lawrence Hogan, was the first Republican congressman to support the removal of Richard Nixon. . .
The White House is paying close attention. The president’s political aides have been monitoring the Maryland governor for months, and several said they regarded the inauguration speech as an unmistakable act of aggression.
The conservative publication, The Bulwark, noted that Jeb Bush introduced Hogan during the inauguration.
Former Florida governor and presidential candidate Jeb Bush, who introduced Hogan Wednesday, struck a similar note: “Larry is at the top of a list of leaders that I admire today because what’s happening here in Annapolis is the antithesis of what’s happening in Washington, D.C., these days.
In our earlier article, we said that Mitt Romney is free to challenge Trump, because Utah doesn’t like Trump, and so, Romney risks nothing by opposing him. The same goes for Hogan, the Bulwark says.
Most conservative politicians, even those that are secretly skeptical of the president, know better than to torch their reputations among their primary voters by trying to take Trump on. But Hogan’s constituency isn’t made up primarily of Trump fans—as a Republican with sky-high approval ratings in deep-blue Maryland, he won bipartisan accolades by developing a reputation for steady, affable leadership and looking for ways to strike deals with Democrats in the legislature.
However, the conservative Washington Examiner says he should focus on Maryland and leave national politics alone.
Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine) says there’s nothing wrong with a Republican challenge to Trump, according to Fortune. However, that may just be an attempt to redeem herself with women, after voting to confirm Bret Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court.
Trump could be vulnerable. While his favorability rating is languishing in the 40% area, that’s not unusual for recent presidents. What is unusual is a recent poll that says that 58% of Americans say they will definitely not vote for Trump in 2020, according to the conservative NewsMax
• 10 percent of Republicans plan to vote against Trump, compared to 69 percent who say they will support him.
• 91 percent of Democrats say they will not back him, while 5 percent plan to vote for him.
• 62 percent of independents plan to vote against the president, compared to 25 percent who say they will back him.
By contrast, the same poll shows support for Trump’s possible opponents.
• 29 percent of Republicans and GOP leaning independents had a favorable view of Sen. Mitt Romney, R-Utah, compared to 48 percent who were unfavorable.
• 24 percent of Republicans and GOP leaning independents said they have a favorable impression of former Ohio Gov. John Kasich, while 28 percent were unfavorable.
• 76 percent of Democrats and Democratic leaning independents had a favorable view of former Vice President Joe Biden, while 12 were unfavorable. Biden led all other potential Democratic hopefuls.
Of course, Trump’s people are not taking this lying down. Politico says the fix may be in for the GOP convention.
President Donald Trump is tightening his iron grip on the Republican Party, launching an elaborate effort to stamp out any vestiges of GOP opposition that might embarrass him at the 2020 Republican convention. . .
The campaign is so focused on ensuring the convention is a smooth-running affair devoid of presidential critics that it’s building out an entire wing of the campaign devoted solely to the endeavor. The initiative appears to be unique in both how early it’s been launched and how far-reaching it is. . .
The enterprise is part of a broader takeover of the party machinery heading into 2020. Among the Trump team’s other steps is incorporating the reelection campaign and the Republican National Committee into a single, streamlined entity — an unprecedented arrangement.
The Washington Examiner notes some of the ways Trump’s people plan to change the rules.
Meanwhile, according to Fox, South Carolina may kill its primary to assure that no one can challenge Trump there. It was first reported in the Washington Examiner. Likewise, New Hampshire is considering a rules change that would allow the State party organization to promote Trump, according to InsideSources, instead of allowing its “First in the Nation” primary to be an open “proving ground.”
We still have a year-and-a-half before the conventions. There’s plenty of time for rules changes. It has already begun. But this time, the manipulation and “fixing” is being done by the candidate who constantly and consistently claimed that the election was rigged against him in 2016.