The army of 60,000
On Monday I received two e-mails touting the fact that the group Change Maryland has 60,000 Facebook “likes.” Presumably that means 60,000 people agree with their “primary mission (which) is to bring reform, fiscal responsibility and common sense to Annapolis.” I can’t disagree with that.
So for many months we’ve heard talk about a Hogan campaign for governor, a subject I’ve broached before. Interestingly enough, the Change Maryland newsletter announcing the milestone also has this link to a September article by Michael Dresser in the Baltimore Sun. In it, Hogan is quoted as saying “any decision will come later this year.”
But the fact this piece is included in the newsletter seems to be more evidence that Larry will make a go of it. And why not? Consider that Change Maryland has 60,000 followers and then read the Facebook presence (in followers/”likes”) of these gubernatorial candidates (you’ll be surprised who has the most, by the way):
- Heather Mizeur (D) – 9,585
- Anthony Brown (D) – 4,957
- Doug Gansler (D) – 3,847
- Charles Lollar (R) – 3,477
- David Craig (R) – 2,291
- Ron George (R) – 1,864
Naturally, Facebook likes aren’t placeholders for votes, as a recent Democratic poll (commissioned and released by Brown) had Mizeur at just 5% of the vote. You would need more grains of salt than you’ll find at a pretzel factory to take Facebook likes seriously as a surrogate for support, but the difference is still pretty stark.
And while one political observer told me a January decision by Hogan was in the cards, it seems more logical to me (and falls within the “later this year” time frame) to use this upcoming – and pricey – Change Maryland Fall Harvest Party to make a formal announcement of intentions. (Interestingly enough, this may bring additional people out for others who are doing hospitality suites as well; then again, the party’s convention call issued yesterday shows five suites and two ballrooms are still available. Could Hogan’s event serve to blow the competitors out of the water such that they pass on hospitality suites?)
Even the remarks quoted from Larry in the Change Maryland release sound like those of a candidate:
The only way to bring about real change in Maryland is to find a way to bring Republicans, Independents and fiscally conservative Democrats together. That is what our Change Maryland campaign has been so effective at accomplishing over the past couple of years.
A clear majority of Marylanders are completely fed-up with politics-as-usual in Annapolis and want to see a change in the direction that our state is heading. This isn’t just another fight between Democrats and Republicans, it’s more important than that. This is a fight for Maryland’s future and it’s a fight worth fighting.
Sadly, this administration has a failed record of lost businesses, lost jobs, higher spending, record tax increases and broken promises. The people of Maryland deserve better and that is why we have been working so hard for change.
Yet there is one advantage Larry has at the helm of Change Maryland which instantly disappears the moment he utters those magic words, “I’m running for governor.” Suddenly the campaign becomes about topics other than the poor economy of Maryland and the failure of Martin O’Malley to address it. People who love Hogan’s economic stance could be appalled at his views on the Second Amendment, the War on Rural Maryland, Common Core, or a number of other issues. If he stayed out, Hogan could be the kingmaker, the Sarah Palin or Ted Cruz of Maryland whose word and organization could swing an election toward a favored candidate (although Change Maryland is officially non-partisan.)
But I think after backing out in 2010 Larry’s getting too close to the flame to resist. It’s just a question of when and who is affected most by it.