SEABROOK – Gov. Larry Hogan is attempting to establish a stronger, more visible presence in Prince George’s County with the addition of a campaign office in Springdale.
The push for more county support comes after the first post-debate polls show the Republican with a double-digit lead heading into the last month of campaigning in the gubernatorial race.
Hogan, who grew up in Landover and attended DeMatha Catholic High School, has displayed a low profile in the county since the start of the campaign season earlier this year. However, his campaign has started to show more visibility in the past couple of weeks, posting several signs throughout New Carrollton and Springdale while picking up local endorsements.
Hogan’s campaign opened an office on the corner of Ardwick Ardmore Road and Preston Drive on June 1, according to Communications Director Scott Sloofman. However, in the past two weeks, the shared office space has been covered with Hogan posters and signage.
The office is the home base for canvassing and phone banks according to Field Manager Robert Windly. So far, the campaign has attracted 97 active volunteers who have helped knock on 17,061 residents’ doors, Sloofman said.
Former U.S. District Judge Alexander Williams Jr. supports Hogan’s efforts in Prince George’s and said that once county voters get to know him, they would want to join his campaign as well.
“He’s not been one-sided in his governorship; he has been working in a bipartisan manner and reaching across the aisle to get things done for Maryland,” Williams, the first African American elected to the office of State’s Attorney in the county, said. “He is no a stranger to the county these past four years so I would tell Prince Georgians to check him out; he’s just a regular guy.”
In the 2014 gubernatorial election, Hogan won with 51.2 percent of the vote over incumbent Lt. Gov. Anthony Brown. In his home county, Hogan could only grasp 32,619 out of 219,572 county’s votes, equal to 14.9 percent support. It was not confirmed by his campaign staff how often Hogan visited the county in 2014 and if changes were made for this election.
During his time as governor, recently, Hogan has not had a problem meddling in county politics.
In February, Hogan called for then Prince George’s County Public Schools CEO Kevin Maxwell to resign after an external audit found widespread grade fixing. Recently, the County Council issued a letter to Gov. Hogan on July 17 opposing the transfer of the Baltimore-Washington Parkway to the state for expansion and the addition of toll lanes.
“I think we are going to look at the governor’s management style and I think he has to be held accountable,” County Executive Rushern L. Baker, III said after losing the Democratic Primary election on June 26. “He can call the Superintendent of Prince George’s County (Public Schools) to go for people under him doing something wrong, then (Transportation Secretary Pete K. Rahn) should go and that is something that is going to be a part of it.”
Despite his indifference with local officials, Hogan continues to gain local support. On Sept. 28, it was announced that Prince George’s County Professional Fire Fighters & Paramedics Association IAFF Local 1619 endorsed the governor’s reelection.
In 2017, Hogan supported and signed the Hometown Heroes Act to exempt the first $15,000 of firefighters and first responders’ retirement income from state taxes.
“Growing up in Prince George’s County, I’ve seen over my entire lifetime the bravery and heroism of Prince George’s County firefighters, and it’s a tremendous honor to receive their endorsement,” said Hogan during the endorsement event on Sept. 30. “I pledge that our professional firefighters will always have a friend in the governor’s office, an open door and a seat at the table.”
The positive support comes as a Mason-Dixon Poll showed that Hogan has a 14 point lead over Democratic nominee Ben Jealous. According to the polling data, out of 625 registered Maryland voters surveyed, 52 percent would vote for the governor’s reelection. Signs of improvement in Prince George’s are showings as the poll suggests he has 23 percent of county voters support.
“This poll shows what every poll has shown for nearly four years, that Governor Hogan has widespread bipartisan support throughout Maryland,” Doug Mayer, Hogan’s deputy campaign manager said. “This poll also shows that a majority of Marylanders remain strongly opposed to Ben Jealous’ unaffordable plans that will double the state budget and double their taxes.”
Meanwhile, Kevin Harris, senior advisor to the Jealous campaign, said that the new poll results are not a full reflection potential of the Democratic nominee. Among county voters, Jealous has 56 percent of support, the second largest base of votes for the former NAACP President and CEO behind Baltimore City at 62 percent.
“With the vast majority of our resources still unspent, we were able to widen our advantage with Democrats by 15 points, pulling voters from both undecided and Hogan,” Harris said. “Jealous’ vision is clearly resonating with the voters we need to win on Nov. 6, and we are confident that we can continue to close the gap in the coming weeks and end up on top on Election Day.”
Jealous’ campaign announced on Oct. 1 that former U.S. President Barack Obama would be endorsing his campaign, adding another name of a prominent Democratic a month before the election. Obama joins former Vice President Joe Biden and current Senators Bernie Sanders, Cory Booker, Kamala Harris, Kirsten Gillibrand and Elizabeth Warren in support of Jealous.