Hogan Stresses Civility, Bipartisanship in Inaugural Speech

"You should be able to have confidence in the character and competence of the people you elect to office regardless of their party affiliation"

Gov. Larry Hogan spent much of his second inaugural speech contrasting bipartisanship in his first term with the partisan rancor in the nearby nation's capital, as he embraced a rare moment in Maryland politics by becoming only the second Republican governor to be sworn in to a second term Wednesday and a partial federal government shutdown dragged into its 26th day.

It was an inaugural ceremony full of criticism of gridlock in Washington about 30 miles away as the shutdown affects tens of thousands of federal workers who live in Maryland.

"Look, I'm willing to stand up and fight for the things that really matter but not for the status quo politics and not to perpetuate polarization and paralysis," Hogan said. "I come from the get-to-work and get-things-done school of politics, and I'll work with anyone who wants to do the people's business."

Hogan was introduced by former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, a 2016 GOP presidential candidate who praised Hogan and bipartisan efforts in Annapolis as being "the antitheses of what's happening in Washington, D.C. these days."

"Washington's not just our nation's capital. It's also the capital of gridlock and dysfunction, and with a divided Congress it doesn't look like things are going to get much better anytime soon, but life outside of D.C. isn't always that way," Bush said. "Outside D.C., good and interesting ideas and strong leadership still hold the power to repair and reinvigorate our institutions."

Speaking to reporters before the ceremony, Hogan noted the deadlocked negotiations over President Donald Trump's border wall funding demands and the effect the shutdown was having on many residents.

"We're going to keep working for them, but we're going to keep pushing the president and the Congress to get their act together and get things done, which is the way we've done it here in Maryland," Hogan said. "But down there, it seems like nobody can ever get along, and nobody will ever even give up a little to get a lot done, and it's crazy."

Hogan, 62, largely avoided outlining policy goals in his speech. He has said he plans his second term to be much as his first. He reserved much of this speech for criticizing Washington.

Hogan studiously kept his distance from Trump during the last presidential campaign and voted for his own father, a former congressman, rather than Trump in the 2016 election.

"We all suffer enough challenges in our lives that give us plenty to worry about," Hogan said. "You shouldn't have to obsess over or argue constantly about angry and divisive politics. You should be able to have confidence in the character and competence of the people you elect to office regardless of their party affiliation."

In Hogan's first term, he charted a moderate course in working with the Maryland General Assembly, which is controlled by a Democratic supermajority in both chambers. He emphasized his focus on the economy, while noting a commitment to record school funding.

Hogan worked with Democrats last year to preserve the troubled individual market of the state's health care exchange as a contrast to partisan gridlock in Washington. He also has worked with Democrats on criminal justice reforms, and he has supported environmental initiatives, such as his support of a ban on the hydraulic fracturing drilling process known as fracking in Maryland.

In a state where Democrats outnumber Republicans 2-1, Hogan won an upset victory in 2014 using public campaign financing against a well-funded opponent in then-Lt. Gov. Anthony Brown, who is now a congressman. In November, he defeated former NAACP President Ben Jealous with about 55 percent of the vote.

State Sen. Robert Zirkin, a Democrat who chairs the Senate Judicial Proceedings Committee, said Hogan deserves credit, and he pointed to his margin of victory in last year's election demonstrated that voters thought so, too.

"I thought his speech was fantastic and sets the right tone for our four years here in Maryland, and quite frankly what he's done over the last four years and why he's been so successful," Zirkin said. "He truly believes and has practiced the idea of working together across the political aisles and compromise."

Hogan is holding an inaugural gala at the MGM National Harbor casino Wednesday night. While speaking with reporters Wednesday morning, he said he was ready to enjoy the moment, before getting back to work Thursday with a news conference on his budget proposal.

"It's only the second time a Republican has been sworn in for a second term in 243 years, so we're going to party a little bit, but then we're going to get back to work," Hogan said.

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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