ANNAPOLIS, Md. (AP) — Larry Hogan, the former Republican governor of Maryland who positioned himself as one of his party's fiercest critics of Donald Trump, said Sunday he will not challenge the ex-president for the GOP's White House nomination in 2024.
“I would never run for president to sell books or position myself for a Cabinet role,” the 66-year-old Hogan wrote in The New York Times. “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.”
The move is a recognition that while many in the GOP are considering ways to move on from the Trump era, there is little appetite among primary voters for such a vocal critic of the former president. Other prominent Trump adversaries, including former Reps. Liz Cheney of Wyoming and Adam Kinzinger of Illinois, don't appear to be making moves toward a campaign at the moment.
For now, that leaves Trump as the leading figure in the early field of Republican candidates.
So far, he faces just three formal challengers: his former U.N. ambassador Nikki Haley, entrepreneur Vivek Ramaswamy and Michigan businessman Perry Johnson.
Others, including former Vice President Mike Pence, ex-Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and South Carolina Sen. Tim Scott, may join in the coming months. One possible candidate, former Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson, said Sunday on CNN's “State of the Union” that “March is a message month” and that Republicans “need to have all alternatives” to Trump. “We don't need to be led by arrogance and revenge in the future.”
Some Trump rivals, such as Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, could wait until late summer to officially announce their campaigns.
In an interview with CBS' “Face The Nation,” Hogan insisted the prospect of competing against Trump didn't factor into his decision.
“He’s very tough,” Hogan said. “But, you know, I beat life-threatening cancer. So having Trump call me names on Twitter didn’t -- didn’t really scare me off.”
“It’s mostly about the country and about the party,” Hogan added. “It was a personal decision. It was like, I didn’t need that job. I didn’t need to run for another office. It was really I was considering it because I thought it was public service and maybe I can make a difference.”
Hogan wrapped up his second term as governor in January, serving for eight years in a state where Democrats outnumber Republicans by a 2-to-1 margin. He was Maryland's second Republican governor ever to be reelected.
Some Republicans had hoped that Hogan, emerging as the new best hope of a small group of “Never Trump Republicans,” would challenge Trump in 2020. But a year after Hogan's reelection in 2018, he said that while he appreciated “all of the encouragement” he had received to run for president, he would not. Hogan told The Associated Press he had no interest in a "kamikaze mission.”
In the past two presidential elections, Hogan said he did not vote for Trump, the party nominee. Hogan said he wrote in the name of his father, former U.S. Rep. Larry Hogan Sr., in 2016 and the late President Ronald Reagan in 2020.
Hogan won his first term as governor in 2014 in an upset, using public campaign financing against a better-funded candidate. Running on fiscal concerns as a moderate Republican businessman, Hogan tapped into frustration from a variety of tax and fee increases over the eight previous years to defeat then-Lt. Gov. Anthony Brown.
Hogan had never held elected office before and in his first year as governor, he focused on pocketbook issues. He lowered tolls, an action he could take without approval from the General Assembly, long controlled by Democrats. But he was also presented with challenges, including unrest in Baltimore following the death of Freddie Gray in police custody in 2015. Hogan sent the National Guard to prevent further rioting.
In June of that year, he was diagnosed with stage 3 non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma but continued working while receiving treatment. He has been in remission since November 2015.
In 2018, he became only the second Republican governor in the history of the state to win reelection, defeating former NAACP President Ben Jealous.
Hogan has long been upfront about his distaste for Trump as president.
In 2020, as chair of the National Governors Association, Hogan criticized Trump for delaying a national coronavirus testing strategy, saying the president was playing down the virus' threat despite grave warnings from top national experts.
“I did not go out of my way to criticize the president,” Hogan said. “But unlike a lot of Republicans, I’m not the guy that’s just going to sit down and shut up and not stand up and say something if I think something’s going wrong.”
Describing the riot at the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021, as “one of the darkest days in American history," Hogan said Trump should have resigned or been removed from office.
“The people that try to whitewash Jan. 6 as if nothing happened are delusional. It was an assault on democracy,” Hogan told the AP late last year.
Trump and Hogan were engaged in a proxy battle of sorts in the 2022 election. Hogan's pick to succeed him as governor was Kelly Schulz, who was labor secretary and commerce secretary in his administration. She lost in the Republican primary to Trump-endorsed Dan Cox, a state lawmaker who said President Joe Biden’s 2020 victory shouldn’t have been certified and who sought to impeach Hogan for his pandemic policies.
Cox went on to lose the November general election by a large margin to Democrat Wes Moore.
Kinnard reported from Columbia, South Carolina. She can be reached at http://twitter.com/MegKinnardAP