Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Larry Hogan's Debate Theme: I Am Not A Monster. Or Pro-Life. Or Pro-Gun. Or Even A Republican.

My previous post on Hogan

So I've listened to the debate several times now, here's my summary:

Neither of these men are good at debating or speaking extemporaneously. There was a lot of cliche abuse. Brown used a lot different ones, Hogan kept stealing Reagan's "There you go again." without the setup or delivery. There was a lot of faux-agreement between the two candidates when they weren't knifing each other. 

Anthony Brown: We've done good things recently. I have leadership experience. Here's what we've done, here's my vision for Maryland. My opponent wants to benefit the very rich at the expense of the poor.

Larry Hogan: Maryland sucks. My opponent sucks. My opponent is a failure. His policies suck. He's called me a whole bunch of names, and I will recite them for you. The names aren't true.


Brown muddied the water early on on Hogan's primary line of attack - he tied Hogan to Ehrlich administration tax and tuition increases.

He consistently presented a vision for the future and a plan for going forward. It's a horrible vision, filled with government growth and central control, but it is a vision. He offered some hard data to support his conclusions.

He repeatedly hit back hard at Hogan's lines of attack, pointing to successes in his record, painting Hogan as Ehrlich in terms of tax hikes and policy and hitting Hogan hard on the lack of concrete positions.

Brown took advantage of Hogan's double-talk on SB 281 and gun rights. While Hogan has publicly said he's not taking any position on SB 281 and not going to work to repeal it, to gun groups and through his supporters he's promised to use appointments to negate the impact of SB 281. 

Brown also took advantage of Hogan's opportunistic "We'll sue PA and NY" method of "environmental protection" and presenting himself as the candidate taking responsibility and willing to make hard choices.

Brown also gave a respectable answer as to why he hasn't speak out against the governor based on his military service. (The Executive Officer doesn't criticize the Commanding Officer in public.)

Hogan was stuck on attack mode. He offered no forward vision, no solutions and no ideas. He opened with criticism and largely stayed there, despite the ridiculous answer that his campaign has been "largely positive".

Then he started whining. Oh dear god did he start whining. He did half of Brown's work for him. He imported Brown attacks from ads and just said "That's not true". He did this several times, talking about a random Brown ad and saying it's a lie.

Brown did not talk about his ads. Not once. But Hogan brought them in mostly at random, clobbering himself in the face again and again.

Because Hogan refused to take a strong position on gun rights, he was unable to make any case at all to defend himself against a standard Democratic line against "extreme" gun rights. He ended up having to effectively be for gun-control.

He introduced a Brown ad accusing Hogan of being pro-life and anti-contraception, just to say that he, in fact, pro-choice. "Nothing will change" in a pro-abort state is a pro-choice position.

Hogan gave the first response to the "Name one good thing" question, a snarky "Better at dying" answer. Brown gave a sincere response (the Bay Foundation) that was believable because it was related to his own agenda. What's more, this question was optional part of the question and could've simply been skipped. Hogan gave Brown the perfect chance to make him look petty, and Brown took it.

Hogan also had this problem where he had trouble looking at the camera at times. Eyes down, up, either side. Anyone paying attention to that gets a vibe that this guy is either 1) Dishonest or 2) Incredibly nervous.


Brown is not a great debater. Someone willing to push hard against him might have been able to force him into a corner and made him look like a poor choice. But he did have a solid command of what he wanted to talk about, and Hogan let him control the debate, at least when Hogan wasn't punching himself in the face, so he never had to go off-script.

Hogan was largely unable to take advantage of Brown's largest weaknesses. Yes, no question was asked about the healthcare exchange. But no question was introduced about SB 281 either - Brown brought that up in response to an unrelated question. 

The greatest flaw in Hogan's presentation (generally, but especially in the debate) is that he lacks "the vision thing". He's almost entirely been unable to present a path forward for Maryland, and offers nothing but criticisms of the O'Malley/Brown administration. Because Hogan is running a campaign of "Less bad than the other guy", Hogan ended up coming across as whiny and bitter, largely due to the stream of unending criticism and absence of solutions.

There's one point, on improving business climate, where Hogan names 3 criticisms, and the sole solution is "I will be elected." Brown immediately calls him out for offering no solutions, and Hogan says he offered 3. Well, factually, Brown has the right of this. Hogan was asked 'What will you do?' and the answer was 'O'Malley/Brown sucks'.

A constant unending stream of negativity will not win voters. It may draw them in and boost their numbers in the short term, but in the end voters will have 2 choices: A) Something, and B) Nothing.

Hogan joined the primary at the last possible second after building up his campaign organization for 3 years. He relied on his personal wealth to skate through the primary election based primarily on advertising and name recognition. But now he's been in the game for awhile, and he's at a spending disadvantage. He's being attacked on television, and it obviously gnaws at him. If he's going to do well on the next debate, he's got to come up with positive messaging, stop bitching that his opponent's ads are unfair, and go after Brown while offering alternatives to Brown's agenda, not just criticism.

I have two problems with the format.

1) The person getting the question first has a 90-second opener and a 60-second rebuttal. The person responding gets a 90-second opener with no rebuttal. That was stupid.

2) Worse was that awful blue background. Seriously, what was up with that? No one had a black curtain or any kind of backdrop?

Edit: Listening one last time, Hogan gave a decent answer opposing the minimum wage. He didn't expand on it, but it was literally at the end just before the closing statements.


  1. Md is 4th highest taxed state in country. #2 foreclosures and illegals working anywhere they want. Md citizens forced to support non citizens costing us more then $2billion a year. Md #48 job creation. Lets not forget all the other non taxes that has increased and doubled. Birth certs doubled to $25.00 for 1 copy. Lets not forget also the horrible rain tax and flush tax which will increase the loss of business's .. We've already lost between 8k -10k business's costing md about 250k employees and brown says we gained 16k. No mention of the 250k we lost. Hogan has my vote. He will be a plus to Md . Also will someone tell voters it is just fine to swing vote.

  2. For the record, the flush tax was from the Ehrlich administration, in which Hogan served.

    Give me one reason I should vote *for* Larry Hogan, and not just *against* Anthony Brown.

    Thanks for the comment!