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Hogan considering run for president but in no hurry to decide.

Byline: Bryan P. Sears

Gov. Larry Hogan said he is considering challenging President Donald Trump in the 2020 primary but told a crowd that he's in no hurry to decide or engage in a "suicide mission."

Hogan's comments Tuesday to an audience at the Politics and Eggs breakfast at St. Anselm College in New Hampshire offered a glimpse into the two-term Maryland Republican governor's thinking on his future. Hogan also threw a sharp elbow at members of his own party who want to block primary challenges to Trump, using phrases associated with a North Korean dictator.

Hogan's visibility has increased since his re-election in Maryland. He became only the second two-term Republican governor in state history and did so in a "blue wave" year that saw the defeat of many down-ballot Republicans in the General Assembly and at the county government level.

"This was not something I was focused on," Hogan told the audience. "A lot of people have been approaching me, probably since the time of my inauguration in late January. People have asked me to give this some consideration, and I think I owe it to those people to do just that."

The visit to the New Hampshire event a must-attend for potential presidential candidates is part of what Hogan described as a listening tour and the process for deciding whether to run. Hogan said he has visited 10 states and has 16 more on his list.

He started his speech telling reporters and the gathered crowd that he did not intend to announce a campaign at the breakfast. He referred back to that opening statement during a round of audience questions.

"I'm not at the point where I'm ready (to announce)," said Hogan. "I've said before, I'm not going to launch some kind of suicide mission. I have a real day job that's important to me for the people of Maryland, unless I thought there was a path to victory."

Hogan is not yet a household name despite his listening tour, appearances on CNN and PBS NewsHour earlier this year and his leadership role with the National Governor's Association. Hogan polled at 1 percent among GOP New Hampshire voters ina three-way contest that included Trump and former Massachusetts Gov. William Weld, a Republican who announced his campaign last week.

Hogan said he spoke to Weld before his announcement.

"He's not a sitting governor," said Hogan. "It's a different calculus for me."

Hogan's polling numbers however were better than John Delaney, the Democratic former Maryland congressman, who polled at 0 percent in the same poll dead last in a field of 17. U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders, Vermont Democrat, led the poll with 30 percent.

Part of Hogan's calculus could be the future of the party, which the governor said was of concern to him. Hogan had sharp words for some unnamed leaders of the Republican National Committee who would like to prevent primary challenges to Trump.

The committee voted in January to give Trump "undivided support" in advance of the coming election.

Maryland Republican Rep. Andy Harris, who represents Maryland's 1st Congressional District, posted a one-question survey on social media asking about support for Hogan. Harris has been an outspoken Trump supporter.

Hogan said he is critical of such proposals and compared the practice to support for Kim Jong Il, the late North Korean dictator.

"Not that the Republican National Committee doesn't have the right to support a sitting president but to change the rules and to insist (on) 100 percent loyalty to the Dear Leader, it just didn't sound verymuch like the Republican Party I grew up in," said Hogan. "I'm for a return to a more traditional Republican Party."

The nickname is a clear reference to the dead dictator and to Trump, who has met twice with his son, Kim Jong Un.

"Changing rules and stifling debate and demanding, we can't even have an open debate about the future of the party in the country is to me a very short-sighted and wrong move for the Republican National Committee," said Hogan.

Hogan said there he is no hurry to make a decision about his political future.

"I'm going to take as much time as it takes to make that decision," said Hogan. "There's more time than most people think. We have Dem candidates that announce almost every week. People think that you have to make those decisions early now. I don't think that's true. I think if you look back you can do them later in the fall. There's no real timeline."

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Publication:Daily Record (Baltimore, MD)
Geographic Code:1U5MD
Date:Apr 23, 2019
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