The Washington Post is at it again in today's Metro section, boosting Gov. Martin O'Malley's protege Anthony Brown, this time by smearing conservative Republican gubernatorial candidate Larry Hogan.
Staff writer John Wagner essentially allowed his 32-paragraph article, "Hogan emphasizes pocketbook issues," to function as a platform for the state's Democratic Party to rehash their tired "war on women" meme. "Foes want to focus on hopeful's social views, saying they're extreme" noted the subhead to Wagner's piece. Sure enough, Wagner focused almost exclusively on the complaints of those foes rather than on economic issues of import to Marylanders:
To hear Maryland Democrats tell it, a victory for Republican gubernatorial nominee Larry Hogan could lead to the legalization of additional assault rifles, new limits on women’s access to contraception and the clock being turned back on gay rights.
But Hogan isn’t talking much about those issues on the campaign trail — and he says he respects existing state laws on guns, reproductive issues and same-sex marriage, even if they differ from his own long-held beliefs.
As he attempts an upset in a heavily Democratic state, the Anne Arundel County businessman is trying to fashion his bid around core issues that could draw voters across party lines: cutting taxes, creating jobs and expanding the economy.
But the Democratic campaign of Lt. Gov. Anthony G. Brown is determined not to let him.
In recent weeks, Brown’s campaign has labored to paint Hogan as too extreme for Maryland’s electorate. In addition to turning a spotlight on social issues, Brown and his allies have tried to link Hogan to an Anne Arundel County Council candidate who belongs to a group that supports Southern secession and a Frederick County sheriff who has been accused of being anti-immigrant.
“It seems like every other day, we’re getting some off-the-wall attack on something that no one cares about,” Hogan said. “They’re trying to make me into a right-wing, tea party Republican.”
It’s a strategy that could be particularly potent in Maryland, where only one Republican has won the governorship in the past generation, and polls show Brown with an early lead over Hogan.
To win in November, Hogan will need support from a large majority of independents, as well as a sizable number of Democrats, who outnumber Republicans in the state by more than 2 to 1. Although Hogan’s message of lowering taxes and making Maryland more business-friendly might resonate among some Democrats, the Brown team is banking that the more voters hear about Hogan’s views on other issues, the less they will like him.
“It’s a clear strategy, to characterize him as outside Maryland’s political mainstream,” said Mike Morrill, a longtime Democratic strategist. “You have two competing agendas going on here: Hogan is trying to broaden his base, while the Brown team is trying to narrow it.”
Brown campaign manager Justin Schall said Hogan should not get to avoid talking about social issues simply because they’re inconvenient for him. And Schall pushed back on Hogan’s allegation that Brown has sidestepped economic issues, noting that during the primary Brown put out a jobs plan and held meetings around the state to talk to business owners about making Maryland more competitive.
Schall accused Hogan of being out of step with Marylanders on the economy as well as on social issues, citing the Republican’s call to cut corporate taxes — an idea that was embraced by defeated Democratic candidate Douglas F. Gansler.
“We will beat Larry Hogan on the economic issues, and we will beat Larry Hogan on the social issues, because he’s just too extreme,” Schall said.
Brown may be leading Hogan in the polls and is favored to win in November, but at the same time pre-primary polling showed 46 percent of Marylanders feel the state is heading in the wrong direction. That fact was curiously absent from Wagner's story, as were quotes by pro-Hogan surrogates responding to Democratic charges.
It was only deep in the article that Wagner presented an average Joe Maryland Democrat who heard Hogan's pitch and said he's going to cross the aisle and vote for him in November:
As Hogan worked the crowd recently at the Montgomery County fair, he found opportunities to talk to potential voters about topics largely of his choosing.
He joked with a Marine that the man looked too young to be in the military. He confessed a weakness for deep-fried Oreos. And he found sympathetic listeners like Tom Smith, a 56-year-old Democrat who said Hogan’s economic message resonated.
“A lot of people are tired of getting taxed to death,” said Smith, a Mount Airy resident who is a part-time worker on the barn staff at the fair.
Smith said he supports abortion rights, and he knows that Hogan does not. But he doesn’t consider himself a one-issue voter.
“I’m not going to key in on one issue where I might disagree with him,” Smith said. “I vote for the person I feel is best for the job, and right now, I feel Larry Hogan is best for the job.”