early and often

Larry Hogan Won’t Run in 2024’s Imaginary GOP ‘Moderate Lane’

Larry Hogan, ex-governor. Photo: William B. Plowman/NBC via Getty Images

We’re in an interesting moment in the 2024 presidential-election cycle when potential Republican candidates are placing themselves in and out of the running. Donald Trump, Nikki Haley, and anti-woke crusader Vivek Ramaswamy are already in. It’s just a matter of time before Mike Pence and Mike Pompeo announce their candidacies. Ron DeSantis and Tim Scott appear very likely to run as well. Asa Hutchinson, Glenn Youngkin, Greg Abbott, Chris Sununu, and Kristi Noem are longer-shot possibilities. And retreads Ted Cruz and Chris Christie may decide they just have to scratch the presidential itch again.

Over the weekend, another proto-candidate beloved of Beltway scriveners mercifully removed himself from the list of “mentioned” 2024 contestants: former Maryland governor Larry Hogan. To hear Hogan tell it, he decided not to run because of the usual business about not putting his “family through another grueling campaign just for the experience.” In reality, he had about as much a chance to win the GOP nomination as a few million other random Republicans you’ve never heard of. He’s a pro-choice, anti-MAGA member of that very endangered species: the moderate Republican. Its habitat has been shrunk to a few extremely blue Northeastern states where the GOP is so weak that being an actual RINO is the only path to any kind of statewide office. And even that narrow lease on life seems to be expiring: When Hogan and his Massachusetts fellow traveler Charlie Baker faced term limits, control of the GOP in their states reverted to hard-core conservatives and Democrats reasserted their dominance. Even as Hogan appeared on lists of potential 2024 contenders, his handpicked successor as governor lost her primary to a wild man named Dan Cox:

Cox is a 2020 election denier who was at Trump’s pre-insurrection rally on January 6, 2021. He vocally attacked Hogan’s COVID-19 policies as too restrictive and even filed an article of impeachment against him. And he’s a hard-core opponent of legalized abortion. His primary opponent, state commerce secretary Kelly Schulz, was a natural successor to Hogan. But Cox won handily.

Instead of occupying an entirely imaginary “moderate lane” in the GOP presidential primary, Hogan could have perhaps been taken more seriously as the latest vehicle for an equally unlikely but theoretically possible third-party/independent run. He is, after all, co-chair of No Labels, the bipartisan group that regularly dispenses the hallucinogenic drug of a hidden centrist majority waiting to be led away from the Democratic-Republican duopoly. But Larry Hogan–Joe Lieberman ’24, alas, is not to be. If he is unprincipled enough, Hogan may have an opportunity to lend some of his “moderate” pixie dust to a Trump alternative like DeSantis via a well-timed endorsement, which would be useful to America’s answer to Viktor Orbán in a general election.

For determined advocates of the Republican moderate lane, Hogan’s declaration of noncandidacy leaves just one other champion: former congresswoman Liz Cheney, last seen taking a teaching gig at the University of Virginia after her crushing loss in a 2022 primary in Wyoming. Presumably, she will remain on lists of 2024 aspirants until she too decides she doesn’t want to spend the next year or so as a punching bag for every other Republican candidate on the campaign trail en route to a definitive defeat. Then maybe we can all focus on those who reflect the Republican Party as it is, not as we wish it might be in another dimension.

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Larry Hogan Won’t Run in 2024’s Imaginary GOP Moderate Lane