Missing in action again

It’s almost becoming a running joke now.

Larry Hogan can crow as he wishes about raising $450,000 in the initial months of his campaign (although a significant portion was his own money, as I’ll document later this week) and make hay about being on both TV and radio in most parts of the state, but the reputation he’s building as a guy who avoids debates and tough questions is getting harder to shake.

Let’s begin with the television ads. As I speculated when I first wrote about it, it was indeed a cable buy, but now it’s spread across most of the state:

Two days after his campaign reported raising more than $450,000 in its first filing period, gubernatorial candidate Larry Hogan significantly expanded his TV and radio advertising campaign.  His first 30-second ad entitled “Dedicated” which began running in 11 Maryland counties on April 3 is now airing on cable networks in a total of 19 counties.

The presser mentions radio, and I can vouch that the Hogan campaign is on our local talk station since I heard the ad Thursday. It’s a fairly good spot, but using the live audience feed on what Larry had to say in his stump speech was a little distracting because of the applause lines used. He also mentioned last Saturday when I spoke to him before our Lincoln Day Dinner that he had done another interview that day with WGMD-FM out of Georgetown, Delaware – a station popular in the Ocean City/Ocean Pines area. This is one area Hogan has used to advantage – one-on-one interviews where he can take his time to answer questions and steer the conversation back to his main campaign topics. When the questions depart from those areas, in at least one well-known instance Hogan’s called them “crazy.

In the release, Hogan is quoted as saying:

Through our one-on-one meetings with voters in their homes, places of work and communities and now with statewide advertising, Boyd and I are bringing our message of fiscal restraint and common sense reform to Marylanders who simply can’t afford another four years of single party rule and  incompetence by Annapolis elites.

Yet that message can’t seem to stand the scrutiny of direct questioning with other candidates present. On May 9 the Maryland Public Policy Institute is hosting a GOP gubernatorial debate and just three of the four candidates are participating. I’ll give you three guesses as to who declined, first two don’t count. You would think Larry can change pre-scheduled events with a month’s advance notice when he had a late change to his official announcement due to a predicted snowstorm (which indeed occurred.) So the excuse that “we have a lot of scheduling conflicts” won’t wash if he misses the May 31 debate scheduled for here in Salisbury.

Another candidate who developed the reputation of missing events early in the campaign has cleaned up his act to a large extent, and the party he’s promoting at the upcoming state convention in Bethesda promises to be a tightly-packed gathering if the guest list is accurate. Emceed by WMAL radio’s Larry O’Connor, the sponsor list includes “Ben Carson, Jr, Jimmy Kemp, Henry Marraffa, Richard Rothschild, Armstrong Williams and many others.” Most readers know who Ben Carson, Sr. is but this event features his son. Similarly, Jimmy Kemp is the son of onetime GOP Vice-Presidential nominee Jack Kemp (1996) and, like his dad, a former pro football quarterback. Marraffa and Rothschild are local elected officials, but Armstrong Williams is best known as a syndicated columnist. So it’s an eclectic group of conservatives who will be featured at Lollar’s soiree, and perhaps Lollar will get a Carson endorsement after all.

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