Best of Bethesda 2019 - Better Late Than Never | Bethesda Magazine

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Better Late Than Never

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At the annual Committee for Montgomery breakfast in late 2014, newly elected Republican Gov. Larry Hogan gibed that Montgomery was “one of the three lonely counties that unfortunately voted the wrong way”—an allusion to only 37 percent of the vote here going his way. Many in the audience of insiders saw Hogan’s remarks as more threat than joke, and the new chief executive kept his distance for the first half of his term. His schedule showed just one formal appearance in Montgomery County during his first 15 months in office, amid frequent visits to other areas of Maryland. Fast-forward to this past August, when Hogan made a half-dozen stops in the county in the span of just two weeks—after an accelerating pace of visits over the previous two years. Clearly, Montgomery County’s bloc of about 656,000 voters became more alluring as the 2018 election neared—and, notwithstanding the county’s reputation as the state’s most liberal jurisdiction, Hogan’s nice-guy demeanor and pragmatic policies garnered local support. In the end, his early arms-length stance didn’t seem to matter. Hogan won nearly 45 percent of the 2018 vote in Montgomery County—the best showing by a GOP gubernatorial candidate in 50 years—on his way to a landslide re-election statewide.

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