ANNAPOLIS — Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan used his inauguration speech Wednesday to not only encourage bipartisanship, but to also send a message to federal lawmakers about 30 minutes away in D.C.
To amplify his meaning, the 62nd governor of Maryland used the words of his late father, Lawrence, a U.S. congressman who was the first Republican in 1974 to advocate for the impeachment of Richard Nixon.
“Party loyalty and personal affection and precedents of the past must fall before the arbiter of men’s actions: the law itself,” Hogan said, repeating his father’s words. “No man, not even the president of the United States, is above the law. For our system of justice and our system of government to survive, we must pledge our highest allegiance to the strength of the law and not to the common frailties of man.”
Although Maryland remains a overwhelmingly Democratic state, Hogan easily won re-election, the first Republican governor in the state to do so in 64 years.
“Because of the trust that you have placed in me, I pledge to you that I will keep giving this job everything I’ve got, every single day that I am given,” he said. We didn’t demand Republican solutions or Democratic solutions; we sought out bipartisan, common-sense solutions that worked for the people of Maryland.”
Hogan also praised two other Republicans — late Arizona Sen. John McCain and former President George W. Bush — as those who chose politics over party.
Bush’s brother, former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, introduced Hogan as a man who leaders in Congress should emulate in how Maryland functions.
“Gov. Larry Hogan is the best example in public life today making efforts each and every day to make less discourse in our culture, [but] to make it more stronger and more loving,” Bush said. “If we can do that, then all the problems of dysfunction in Washington, D.C., will matter not.”
Maryland Democratic Party chairwoman Maya Rockeymoore Cummings released a statement after Hogan’s speech, criticizing the governor for his professed admiration of Bush, who was Florida governor during the controversial Trayvon Martin case and fought to end race-based admissions at public universities.
Cummings also stressed how Hogan campaigned on a Democratic platform such as the “lockbox” initiative to ensure casino revenues go toward education.
“Calling Bush’s time as governor a model should give everyone pause, though,” Cummings said. “The Democratic Party will be here to hold [Hogan] accountable and, with our leaders in the General Assembly and in counties across the state, continue to fight for a better quality of life for all Marylanders.”
Several Democratic residents attended Wednesday’s inauguration of Hogan and Lt. Gov. Boyd Rutherford, including Hazel Robinson of Fort Washington. The administration won her over with its transportation plans, as Fort Washington, located in the southern part of Prince George’s, has fewer mass transit options than other parts of the county.
“I like the fact that they’re moderate,” she said. “It’s like common-sense leadership and that’s what I appreciate.”
D.C. Councilman Vincent Gray (D), who traveled across the border to attend the inauguration, said Hogan’s speech on bipartisanship works.
“I think it symbolizes the tone he has worked toward the last four years,” Gray said. “I have no doubt that he will continue to do that for the next four years. I just wish he could impress upon those at the national level that they need to adopt those same principles and the approach to working with people.”
Several high school seniors, including Jada Eaton, worked last week in Annapolis as pages, handling various duties such as distributing materials for lawmakers, assisting visitors and running errands.
Jada, an 18-year-old student at Oxon Hill High School, viewed the actual swearing-in of Hogan and Rutherford inside the Senate chamber.
“I feel like this was a great opportunity for all of us because [an inauguration] happens once every four years,” she said before taking a picture with Hogan, Rutherford and their spouses. “I got to hold the door for [Hogan]. This is one of the biggest moments of my life.”