Another GOP governor rejects Mitch McConnell's invitation to run for Senate

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Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan recently rebuked his party for endorsing Donald Trump's 'blatant lies' about the 2020 presidential election.

Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan announced on Tuesday that he will not run for Senate this year, marking another setback for Senate Republican leaders who want to take back the majority.

"I sincerely appreciate all the people who have been encouraging me to consider it," Hogan told reporters Tuesday afternoon. "Just because you can win a race doesn't mean that's the job you should do if your heart's not in it. And I just didn't see myself being a U.S. senator."

Hogan also quipped that he called incumbent Sen. Chris Van Hollen (D-MD) "to let him know that he can rest easy and get a good night's sleep tonight."

Both Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell and Sen. Rick Scott (R-FL), who chairs the National Republican Senatorial Committee, had reportedly been working hard to persuade Hogan to run for Senate this year to help the GOP regain a majority in the chamber.

Hogan, who has served as Maryland's governor since 2015, is term-limited and not allowed to run for reelection.

The Associated Press reported in January that Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME) and former Secretary of Transportation Elaine Chao had also been enlisted in the effort to persuade Hogan to run.

This is not the first recent high-profile recruiting failure for Senate Republicans in a state carried by President Joe Biden.

In November, New Hampshire Gov. Chris Sununu rejected the party leaders' attempts to get him to challenge Sen. Maggie Hassan (D-NH).

Sununu pointed directly to McConnell and his caucus' obstruction of nearly all legislation as a reason he did not want to be a GOP senator, observing that "too often, doing nothing is considered a win."

He openly observed that the Republican incumbents recruiting him seemed generally "content with the speed at which they weren't doing anything," adding, "OK, so I'm just going to be a roadblock for two years. That's not what I do."

McConnell and Scott also reportedly tried to convince Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey to mount a challenge against Democratic Sen. Mark Kelly. Ducey, who had previously disclaimed interest in the race, said last Thursday that his answer "hasn't changed."

Van Hollen is considered by political experts to be a heavy favorite to win a second term in a solidly blue state. But Hogan is the very rare Republican who has managed to be elected statewide in Maryland in recent decades, winning reelection in 2018 by nearly 12 points.

A recent internal GOP poll showed Hogan ahead in a hypothetical Senate matchup against Van Hollen, 49%-37%.

Hogan has presented himself as an independent-minded moderate who rejected Trump. This did not stop him from advocating for GOP control of the U.S. Senate in the 2020 Georgia runoff elections or from using his position as co-chair of the No Labels super PAC to oppose Biden's popular agenda in the name of "bipartisanship."

But as Trump and his supporters have pushed to get revenge against his critics and drive them out of the party, there appears to be little room for even slightly centrist Republicans.

Last week, Hogan rebuked the Republican National Committee for censuring two House Republicans, Reps. Liz Cheney (WY) and Adam Kinzinger (IL), for their role in investigating the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the U.S. Capitol that was carried out by Trump supporters.

"The GOP I believe in is the party of freedom and truth," Hogan tweeted on Feb. 4. "It's a sad day for my party — and the country — when you're punished just for expressing your beliefs, standing on principle, and refusing to tell blatant lies."

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.