Rutherford’s Exit in Maryland Blow to Hogan’s White House Bid

Rutherford's Exit in Maryland Blow to Hogan's White House Bid byd rutherford speaks Lt. Gov. Boyd Rutherford, R-Md., speaks during a news conference in 2016 in Baltimore, Maryland. ( Alex Wong/Getty Images)

GetFile By John Gizzi Sunday, 18 April 2021 08:38 AM Current | Bio | Archive

The surprise decision last week of Maryland Lieutenant Governor Boyd Rutherford not to seek the Republican nomination for governor next year is a blow to the presidential hopes of outgoing GOP Governor Larry Hogan.

That was the conclusion of several Republican sources close to Hogan and to Rutherford, the second Black Republican ever to win statewide office in the Free State.

“Gov. Hogan was going to go all-out to make Boyd governor in 2022,” said one of the Republican sources who requested anonymity, “And that would have helped him make a case as a winning candidate for president in ’24.”

The same source told us that “the lieutenant governor’s family has always been a reluctant participant in public life. Three years ago, the word was they were a ‘No.’ And the lieutenant governor himself is more of a ‘nuts and bolts’ guy on the machinery of how government works. He was never driven to be the center of attention.”

Like his political hero, 1996 GOP vice presidential nominee Jack Kemp, Hogan has always made a strong effort to woo diverse communities.

In an interview with Newsmax shortly after his 2018 re-election, Hogan proudly noted that he won with a comfortable 55 percent of the vote — in the process winning roughly half the Hispanic vote, a majority among Asian-American voters (“People give a lot of credit to my wife Yumi, who’s Korean-American”), and one-third of the black vote.

““The truth is there are people who are concerned about whether the party is reaching a wide enough audience,” Hogan explained, “and they ask ‘Are we heading in the right direction?’”

The election of a “Governor Rutherford” to succeed him would have made moderate-to-conservative Hogan (who voted twice against Donald Trump in the general election) the natural candidate to those who want to broaden the party’s base to minorities.

With Rutherford out, the immediate favorite for nomination by the Republicans is State Secretary of Commerce Kelly Schulz. A former state secretary of labor and Member of the State Houses of Delegates, Schulz, 52, is considered a center-right Republican in the mold of Hogan.

Former Lieutenant Governor and Republican National Chairman Michael Steele told Newsmax: “I’m looking at it at this point. Nothing exciting [to say].”

Three Democrats are already announced for governor in a state that has elected only seven Republicans to the governorship since it joined the union in 1777. The leading Democrat is longtime State Comptroller Peter Franchot.

John Gizzi is chief political columnist and White House correspondent for Newsmax. For more of his reports, Go Here Now.

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