WASHINGTON (TND) — The potential field to challenge former President Donald Trump for the Republican presidential nomination lost a possible contender after former Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan announced he would not start his own campaign.
The two-term governor who was one of the nation’s most popular politicians in a state that tilts heavily Democratic has been a long-time Trump critic and urged his party to move in another direction. He had said he was considering running for president on numerous occasions as his final term came to an end and the race for the 2024 nomination began to heat up.
Hogan ultimately opted not to seek the nomination.
“I have long said that I care more about ensuring a future for the Republican Party than securing my own future in the Republican Party. And that is why I will not be seeking the Republican nomination for president,” he said in a statement that was released along with an op-ed in the New York Times and an interview with CBS’ “Face the Nation.”
Hogan had only received minimal support in a series of polls asking Republican voters who they would like to see as the party’s nominee in 2024, never eclipsing single-digit support. Trump and Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, who is considering a bid but not yet declared, have received the bulk of the party’s support from voters.
The former Maryland governor has not yet said what his political future will look like, but said he will continue trying to build a GOP to “deliver for working people.”
“Our nation faces great challenges; we can’t afford to be consumed by the pettiest grievances. We can push back and defeat the excesses of elitist policies on the left without resorting to angry, divisive and performative politics,” he said in his statement. “The work to build a Republican Party that can deliver for working people, not just talk loudly about it, continues. Though I will not be a candidate for my party’s nomination for president, I’ve only just begun fighting for that future.
Hogan had still drawn some support from some parts of the party who want to move away from Trump after losing the White House in 2020 and having a disappointing showing in the 2022 midterms.
“He had a great case, at least as a candidate for particular types of Republican voters,” said Chris Devine, an associate professor of political science at the University of Dayton. “He had great credentials as a two-term governor, a pretty popular governor, and successful in many ways. With that kind of profile, most politicians look at that opportunity and convince themselves that they have a chance.”
Calls to move on from Trump’s leadership have grown louder since the midterm elections, including from some of the presidential candidates like former ambassador to the United Nations and South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley, Hogan, former Vice President Mike Pence and others. The former president has seen his support slip among the party’s voters since leaving office, but he remains the favorite to win the nomination.
Part of the issue for that section of the party is that a crowded primary field could help catapult Trump back to the nomination by dividing up the vote enough to allow him to win with a plurality, something Hogan acknowledged.
“Right now, you have Trump and DeSantis at the top of the field soaking up all the oxygen, getting all the attention, and then a whole lot of the rest of us in single digits. And the more of them you have, the less chance you have for somebody rising up,” Hogan told CBS.
Several experts have said that a one-on-one scenario with Trump and another candidate may be the party’s best chance to move in a new direction.
“That's something that's a pretty clear lesson learned from the 2016 campaign is that as long as Donald Trump can win a plurality in a lot of states. Against the divided fields, he has a chance, actually pretty good chance since he probably commands at least a third of the Republican party loyalty,” Devine said.
So far, the field remains limited to Trump and Haley, but there are still many others who have made their presidential ambitions known which could create a crowded field. DeSantis, Pence, South Carolina Sen. Tim Scott, former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and several Republican governors are considered to be potential presidential candidates.
Many of them are polling in low single digits, but there is still a lot of time before the primary elections kick off with the Iowa caucuses. If some of the others quickly conclude they are not able to mount a formidable challenge to Trump or DeSantis, they could back out of the race to tighten the field.
“What's unique about Larry Hogan is that he's recognizing his limitations and saying, ‘Well, it's probably not going to be me, so why don't I just help the larger cause of essentially defeating Donald Trump?’” Devine said. “That could inspire others to do the same, at least provides a model that might put pressure on them to acknowledge the same thing. But I think the nature of political ambition is such that it helps a lot of people persuade themselves that the rules don't apply to them, that they're the ones who say ‘we need to stay in while others need to drop out.’”