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How Larry Hogan Can Recover From His Show Trial Campaign Flub

Assuming Larry Hogan wants to win his Senate seat, not just harm Donald Trump, he needs to clearly condemn Democrat abuse of American courts.


Larry Hogan does not have the easiest path to serving in the U.S. Senate. He shouldn’t make it any harder than necessary.

That’s unfortunately what the former Maryland governor did when he made an unforced error last week, saying Americans should “respect” the results of the unprecedented Democrat show trial in New York targeting the Republican presidential nominee, Donald Trump:

It’s absolutely true that the rule of law made this nation great, which is why what he said was so heinously wrong.

The New York City trial of Trump bore more resemblance to a Soviet show trial or a third-world kangaroo court than the American system of justice. The case was brought after a law firm connected to Joe Biden and the Democrat Party lent some of its top attorneys to Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg.

Bragg campaigned on pledges to go after Trump. When they were first filed, the 34 felony indictments were roundly derided by even Democrat partisans as weak, inappropriate, and corrupt. Only after a series of other Democrat efforts to imprison Trump began to falter did they rush to rehabilitate this case.

Still, even legal experts at the end of the trial were unclear on exactly what laws Trump was alleged to have broken and how. Neverthless, a jury comprised of Manhattan residents — one of the country’s most anti-Trump jurisdictions — took hardly any time at all to find Trump guilty on each of the nebulous charges.

Judge Juan Merchan ran a cartoonishly biased trial where he allowed a “torrent” of improper testimony from prosecution witnesses, no matter how much it violated the accused party’s rights, while disallowing expert testimony for the defense, such as from former Federal Elections Commission Commissioner Brad Smith. Judge Merchan, who was hand-picked to run the trial, also had profound personal and familial conflicts of interest. He had contributed money to political efforts to help Biden and stop Trump, in contradiction to rules for New York judges, and his daughter’s clients were a veritable who’s who of Democrat politicians.

Even after years of prosecutorial and courtroom violations of Trump’s rights, the judge added to the problems by giving jury instructions that allowed the twelve to convict regardless of whether they agreed on what occurred in the case.

Under no circumstances should any American who claims to support the Constitution and care about the rule of law support show trials. This isn’t even remotely a close call.

Principled Leadership Over Petty Feelings

Maryland is overwhelmingly Democrat. Hogan won the Republican primary last month despite his liberal views at odds with many Maryland Republicans. If he is to have a shot at winning, he has to keep the support of those Republicans, only about a third of the state, and gain enough support from independents and some Democrats to put him over the top against Democrat opponent Angela Alsobrooks.

To that end, he’s been broadcasting his independence. “I want to say this up front: In the Senate, Republicans can’t count on my vote,” Hogan said in a 30-second TV ad he released last week. He added that neither could Democrats. He said he’d make his decisions based on what’s best for the state.

Hogan has never made any secret of his hatred for Trump. It’s Hogan’s outspoken opposition to the Republican leader that has garnered him so much airtime on corporate media. He in no way needs to set that aside to do the right thing in terms of principled opposition to lawfare and coalition-building political savvy.

The Republican Party tent is big enough to include people even with Hogan’s anti-Trumpist views. It is almost certainly not big enough, however, to include people who support show trials. Every single person who might be willing to vote for Hogan knows Trump’s conviction by the New York City prosecutor, judge, and jury is completely political.

Every single person who might be part of the Hogan coalition also understands that rule of law and equal justice under the law are absolute bedrocks and foundational tenets of American culture. Hogan will lose if he tells voters he tolerates unequal justice under the law. Hogan should not play games or be cute on this issue.

In 2016, Sen. Kelly Ayotte and Rep. Joe Heck were convinced that Trump would lose after the Access Hollywood tape release, and moved quickly to denounce it as part of their Senate campaigns. That turned out to be politically unwise, but at best it was something they could defend on principle.

In 2024, defending show trials is both politically unwise and completely unprincipled. There is simply no reason to do it unless you want to hurt Trump and other Republicans more than you want to help preserve the United States of America.

Is Hogan running to beat a left-wing Democrat and ensure the majority Republican Senate conference has one additional moderate member? Or is Hogan running simply to hurt Republicans’ chances of winning the presidency by parroting extreme Biden campaign talking points?

If it’s the former, he should quickly speak against Democrat lawfare. Nobody expects him to do it with the passion and principle of Mike Lee, the senior senator from Utah, or of Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida. But he could at least do it at the level of a Mitt Romney, the junior senator from Utah. If he can’t do that, he can at least give the lip service that Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell or his wannabe successor Sen. John Thune of South Dakota gave.

In this case, it’s not hard for Hogan to do the right thing, the American thing, and say clearly that politically motivated prosecutions are bad and elections should be decided by the voters, not by lawfare.

If he can’t say that or doesn’t believe it, Republicans should not bother wasting money or votes on him, because he will have zero chance of success.

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