In a major shock in a deep blue state, small businessman and Republican Larry Hogan defeated Maryland’s Democratic Lt. Governor Anthony Brown to become governor-elect. Hogan trailed throughout most of the campaign, usually by double-digits. But in the final two weeks of the campaign, polls showed Hogan closing that gap and, ultimately, overtaking Brown in the final poll by 5 points.
Brown, who served as the number two for Governor and 2016 Democratic presidential hopeful Martin O’Malley, was stunned but gracious in defeat. In May, Brown referred to the primary election as “the bigger objective,” saying, “We take that hill, and then we’ve got a little bit of a mole hill to take in November.” (RELATED: Is That A Pole Dancer? Front-Runner For Md. Governor Caught In Scandalous Photo)
Outspent by $16 million, Hogan was bolstered by the Republican Governors Association, with ad buys and four visits from RGA Chairman and New Jersey Governor Chris Christie. (RELATED: Obama Visits Maryland; Democrat Drops 9 Points?)
Hogan will not have an easy term, the Maryland State House is dominated by Democrats, but his victory in this bluest of blue states should give him some political capital to spend. He campaigned on rolling back many of the 40 tax increases the O’Malley administration instituted, including a gasoline tax that is indexed to inflation and the “rain tax.”
Brown ran an incredibly negative campaign, attacking Hogan with ads portraying him as someone who is anti-women, anti-children and in favor of semi-automatic weapons in schoolyards. The Maryland Democratic Party also tried to motivate African-American voters to the polls through mailers equating Brown with Martin Luther King and President Barack Obama, as well as linking Hogan to segregation and the unrest in Ferguson, Mo. (RELATED: This Could Be The Most Surprising Result On Election Night)
The defeat is a blow to O’Malley, who has made no secret of his desire to be a player on the national stage. The failure of the all-but-announced candidate for the 2016 Democratic presidential nomination to pass the governor’s mansion to his successor is a sign of his unpopularity at home and will weaken his already limited appeal nationally. In the field of potential Democratic nominees, O’Malley polls at 1 percent or less.