FIRST ON FOX: Republican Gov. Larry Hogan of Maryland heads to the Iowa State Fair on Thursday, as part of a jam-packed two-day visit to the state whose caucuses for half a century have kicked off the presidential nominating calendar.
The governor will showcase a crime and law enforcement plan during this trip. Details of the proposals were shared first with Fox News on the eve of his Iowa arrival.
Hogan will also become the first of the potential 2024 GOP presidential contenders this cycle to visit the state fair, which has long been a must stop for White House hopefuls.
The term-limited governor’s trip to Iowa comes less than month after the candidate he was supporting in Maryland’s Republican gubernatorial primary in the race to succeed him lost to a contender backed by former President Donald Trump. The race was partially framed as a proxy battle between the former president and Hogan, who’s long been a vocal Trump critic.
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Kelly Schulz – a former state lawmaker who served as Maryland’s secretary of labor and secretary of commerce during Hogan’s eight years as governor – was defeated by conservative state lawmaker Dan Cox – the Trump backed anti-abortion candidate who also strongly supports the former president’s unproven claims that the 2020 presidential election was riddled with massive voter fraud and rigged.
Political prognosticators viewed Cox’s win as a political loss for Hogan, who acknowledged in a Fox News interview ahead of his Iowa trip that “it may appear to be a temporary setback.”
But Hogan pointed to the roughly $2 million spent by the Democratic Governors Association ahead of the Maryland primary to run ads boosting Cox’s conservative credentials. The DGA viewed Cox as the weaker general election candidate than Schulz, as it aims to flip the governor’s office in blue state Maryland from Republican the Democratic control.
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“It was unfortunate that the Democratic Governors Association kind of colluded with Trump to support a crazy person in our state that has no chance to win,” Hogan argued.
But Hogan touted that “I’ve been helping candidates all across the country – people that I think deserve to be in office. We’ve won five out of the six governors races in which we’ve been involved.”
And pointing to his stop on Wednesday in Omaha, Nebraska to fundraise for and hold a law enforcement roundtable with Republican Rep. Don Bacon, whom Trump had unsuccessfully targeted, Hogan noted that “I’m helping congressmen and senators across the country … that were being attacked by President Trump.”
Hogan told Fox News last month during a barnstorming trip through New Hampshire – the state that for a century’s held the first presidential primary and which votes second in the nominating calendar after Iowa – that he will potentially launch a 2024 Republican presidential campaign if he sees “there’s a possible road to victory, that there’s a lane and I have an opportunity.”
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But Hogan cautioned that he would not run just for the sake of running, emphasizing “I’m not going to go on a wild goose chase or a suicide mission” to seek the nomination in a party that’s still very much under Trump’s firm grip.
The former presidential has repeatedly flirted with making another presidential bid to try and win back the White House in 2024 and has hinted that an announcement would come soon.
Asked if the FBI’s raid of Trump’s Mar-a-Lago estate in Florida on Monday changes the 2024 political dynamic, Hogan said “I don’t know what changes or doesn’t change about what happened. I don’t think we’ve gotten to the bottom of it. We haven’t seen all the facts.”
Hogan will flip pork chops at the Pork Tent, along with Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds, while at the state fair on Thursday.
But he’ll also hold a law enforcement roundtable with Rep. Randy Feenstra of Iowa and will pay tribute to law enforcement at the Heroes Tent.
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And he’ll showcase his “Plan of Action for Safer Communities,” which was newly released by the pro-Hogan public advocacy group An America United.
“Crime is one of the top issues of concern from people all across America,” Hogan emphasized.
The proposal calls for a refunding the police package; holding violent criminals accountable by deploying federal prosecutors to areas where politicians and prosecutors have failed to do their jobs and urging that criminals who assault police officers face the full extent of the law; combating the opioid crisis by increasing resources for drug prevention, treatment and recovery, and limiting the amount of opioids that can be prescribed; and securing America’s southern border with Mexico by increasing resources.
Hogan says the plan’s modeled on how he’s led Maryland during his two terms in office.
“We’ve been focused on this for eight years,” he noted. And he spotlighted that “when the all the talk started about defunding the police, I was one of the first leaders in America to strongly speak out against it.”
He noted that his push to “refund the police” saw “overwhelming 80%-90% approval among Black voters and inner-city voters because they agree with that. They also agreed with our push to hold violent criminals more accountable. “
Hogan highlighted that the elements in his new plan, as well as an inflation relief proposal released earlier this summer, “are not just crazy ideas, they’re things we implemented…We did put our money where our mouth is. I cut taxes eight years in a row.”
And sounding very much like a likely presidential contender, Hogan emphasized that “I want to be a voice of reason and I want to be someone in the Republican Party and the nation that’s talking about the issues people care about. I have been a national leader on some of these issues. I’ve had some success in a very tough environment in the bluest state in the country getting some of this done.”