Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan – an upstart politician who has never held public office – is confronting one of the most serious challenges his state has endured in decades.
Just three months into the job, the Republican governor is playing a key role in regaining control of Baltimore, his state’s largest city, which has been gripped by violence in the wake of the death of a 25-year-old black man in police custody earlier this month. Other governors, including Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon, have stumbled in responding to similar violence in their states. Hogan seems determined to avoid a similar fate but the riots exposed tension between the governor and Baltimore’s Democratic mayor – a relationship that will be crucial in the days ahead.
“This is not the Baltimore we know and love,” Hogan said during a press conference Tuesday.
Hogan signed an executive order Monday declaring a state of emergency in Baltimore, deploying the National Guard and 5,000 state and local law enforcement officers to the city. The governor had the order ready as early as Saturday when the first signs of unrest began, Hogan’s office told CNN.
READ MORE: Baltimore riots: Security beefed up, cleanup starts after looting, fires
In an interview with CNN late Monday night, Hogan said he was waiting for a request from
Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake before declaring the state of emergency and activating the National Guard.
“We’ve been standing by in preparation just in case the violence escalated—which it did.
When the mayor called, we activated,” Hogan, standing alongside Rawlings-Blake, told CNN’s Don Lemon. “We were fully prepared. We had all the assets ready.”
When pressed on why he waited to sign the order during an earlier press conference, Hogan suggested that Rawlings-Blake was initially unresponsive to his office’s request for action.
“We were trying to get in touch with the mayor for some time,” Hogan said. “We are glad she finally called us.”
The governor said he had moved his top staff and cabinet from the state capital Annapolis to Baltimore Tuesday in order to direct operations from there.
Prior to the riots, Hogan worked with Rawlings-Blake and Baltimore officials on an economic revitalization program, but has proposed reducing the city’s reliance on state aid.
Hogan, 58, vowed to make Baltimore a centerpiece of his economic agenda after his election, telling the Baltimore Sun that he wanted the city to become a “driver of the whole state.”
“The city’s declining rather than improving,” Hogan told the Sun. “We’re going to try to turn that around. … We’re basically going to have to find a way to incentivize people to move into Baltimore City.”
One of just two Republican governors to be elected in the state since 1969, Hogan enjoyed a surprise electoral victory last November in the traditionally Democratic stronghold, besting Democrat Anthony Brown by 3.8 percentage points.
Hogan, a businessman who led a fiscal policy increase group called “Change Maryland,” stunned political circles in deep blue Maryland with his success in last year’s mid-term elections. His opponent outspent him four-fold, and Democrats enjoy a majority in both chambers of the state legislature.
While his campaign for the governor’s post was Hogan’s first foray into elected office, he grew up surrounded by politics. His father, Lawrence J. Hogan Sr., represented Maryland’s fifth congressional district for three terms and was county executive of Prince George’s County until 1982. The governor’s younger brother, Patrick N. Hogan, is a member of the Maryland House of Delegates.