Former Maryland Republican Gov. Larry Hogan Jr. told Fox News that part of the reason for his decision against seeking the presidency in 2024 is to avoid a 2016-style GOP primary "pileup" that helped Donald Trump score the nomination.
Hogan – who left office as Maryland's only second two-term Republican governor after Gov. Theodore McKeldin in the 1950s – said the GOP must return to "Reagan"-esque principles and politics to win elections, as he had twice in one of the bluest states in the nation.
"I want to avoid what we saw in 2016 where we had so many candidates all fighting over a limited chunk of votes and then Donald Trump became the nominee," he said Mondaxy on "Your World."
"And I just happen to believe very strongly that we've got to figure out a way to nominate the strongest possible candidate who can win in an election in November – [one] that can appeal to a wider audience. And I don't think that's Donald Trump."
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Hogan cited his approval rating of over 70% upon leaving office as evidence a Republican like himself and former President Ronald Reagan has the ability to earn strong crossover support from independents, Democrats and voting blocs otherwise unfriendly to the right.
In 2016, Hogan wrote-in his late father, former Rep. Larry Hogan Sr., R-Md., after stating he would not vote for Hillary Clinton.
In 2020, Hogan similarly did not support Trump and notably declined to endorse his own would-be Republican successor, State Del. Dan Cox, R-Frederick. Hogan branded the outspoken conservative a "whack-job" who "has no chance whatsoever." Meanwhile, Cox had attempted to impeach Hogan over Maryland's stringent coronavirus lockdown orders.
Trump endorsed Cox while branding Hogan a "Shutdown RINO" over his COVID restrictions. Cox ultimately lost his gubernatorial bid to current Democratic Gov. Westley Moore.
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As for 2024, Hogan said there are still a number of potential candidates in the "same lane" as someone like himself, who would pull votes from each other in a way that helped Trump in 2016.
"I sort of decided to put the party and the country first because, you know, I didn't need to be in elective office." Hogan said. "I just want to be a part of the solution. I care about a future for the Republican Party. And I want to get the country on the right track."
Hogan's first gubernatorial win in 2014 was a historic upset in blue Maryland, as voters sided with the Republican's focus on the economy and taxes, and rejected then-Lt. Gov. Anthony Brown – who was seen as too connected to outgoing liberal Gov. Martin O'Malley.
Hogan then defeated former NAACP Chairman Ben Jealous by double-digits in his 2018 reelection bid.
The former governor told "Your World" that Republicans should not run for president in search of a book deal or cabinet post, reiterating his hope for a smaller primary field than 2016.
"I'm from the Republican wing of the Republican Party," he said, adding the best vision for the GOP is one of hope, unity and positivity.
Hogan claimed Trump was the only candidate who could have lost to President Biden in 2020, while adding that both men are "diminished" from their pre-2020 stature.
Among declared challengers former South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley, businessman Perry Johnson, entrepreneur Vivek Ramaswamy, and a host of potential contenders, there is "no real standout in my mind" as of yet, Hogan said.
Asked about the prospects for similar former Govs. Asa Hutchinson of Arkansas and Chris Christie of New Jersey, Hogan said they are likely considering the same deliberations he has been.
Hutchinson and Christie are part of a slew of potential 2024 candidates, including Virginia Gov. Glenn Youngkin, South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, Miami Mayor Francis X. Suarez, former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, former Vice President Mike Pence, and Sen. Tim Scott of South Carolina.