Larry Hogan officially assumed office as Maryland’s governor on Wednesday afternoon in Annapolis. As he began his speech, snow was beginning to fall. The flakes gave Hogan an opening to set a tone of back-slapping defiance, from the moment he took the podium.
“They said it would be a cold day in hell before Maryland elected a Republican governor,” Hogan said. Robert Ehrlich, Jr., who left office as a Republican governor of Maryland eight years ago, left the podium just a few minutes before Hogan stepped up. But the message was clear.
Hogan’s inauguration speech largely reflected the ideas at the basis of the insurgent campaign that lead to his upset win: improving Maryland’s business climate and a “rebirth” of the state.
Hogan was unequivocal about his focus “fiscal responsibility” and economic growth. “Starting today let me say loudly and clearly: Maryland is open for business,” he said. His interpretation of fairness: “We must get the state government off our backs, and out of our pockets, so that we can grow the private sector, put people back to work, and turn our economy around.”
Given the many Democrats that still control the legislature, he also sounded a note of bipartisanship.
“And to those who would divide us, or drive us to the extremes of either political party, I remind you that Maryland has been called “a state of middle temperament.” Our politics need that middle temperament as well,” he said. “The politics that have divided our nation need not divide our state.”
He closed with a line taken straight from Abraham Lincoln, challenging Marylanders to “appeal to the better angels of our nature so that we can achieve the great and shining promise of Maryland.”
For those who want to meet the new governor, the inaugural ball is tonight at the Baltimore Convention Center. Tickets are $100 apiece.