During Hogan’s travels, he has also set aside time to meet with donors, a ritual for those looking to build a national political apparatus.
Hogan told POLITICO he was currently focused on the 2022 midterms rather than the 2024 race. But, in an indication of his interest, Hogan said he saw an opening in the forthcoming primary for a Trump critic, and he added that he would not be dissuaded from running for president in the event Trump waged a comeback, a position some other prospective Republican candidates have been reluctant to take.
“If I decide that I want to run for president, it certainly wouldn’t stop me that he’s in the race, that’s for sure,” Hogan said.
Within much of the Trump-dominated party, however, there is skepticism that Hogan would be a serious contender, despite his sterling electoral record in Maryland. While polling indicates a portion of Republican voters would like to see an alternative to Trump emerge, there is consensus that the nomination would be his for the taking should he run. A POLITICO/Morning Consult survey conducted Sept. 18-20 showed Trump with an 86 percent approval rating among registered Republicans.
But Hogan — who flirted with a long-shot primary challenge against Trump in 2020 and called on Trump to resign following the Jan. 6 Capitol riot — argued that the former president’s influence was diminishing. And while other potential candidates jockey to win over Trump’s supporters, Hogan said there was an opening in the 2024 GOP primary for someone unaligned with the former president.
“I believe that there’s 10 or 12 or 15 people all fishing in the same pond,” Hogan said. “They want to be the next Donald Trump, and … there’s some 30 percent of the Republican base that wants to go in a different direction.”
Other Trump critics, including Nebraska Sen. Ben Sasse and Wyoming Rep. Liz Cheney, have been mentioned as possible candidates, though they have so far been less aggressive in positioning themselves for a national run.
Would-be Republican 2024 hopefuls are already crisscrossing the country to campaign for congressional candidates, make trips to early primary states and set up vehicles to raise money and increase their national profiles. Hogan supporters have launched An America United, a nonprofit group that’s been churning out slickly produced web videos promoting the governor as a bipartisan problem-solver.
As he travels the country, Hogan is assiduously casting himself as someone who can cure his party’s ills. Hogan offered what may be a preview of his national message during his speech at the Republican Main Street Partnership over the weekend, declaring that “successful politics is about addition and multiplication, not subtraction and division,” and that “frankly we have been doing a lot of subtracting and dividing.”