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Tag: larry hogan

Another GOP Governor Rejects McConnell Plea To Run For US Senate

Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan announced on Tuesday that he will not run for Senate this year, marking another setback for Senate Republican leaders who want to take back the majority.

"I sincerely appreciate all the people who have been encouraging me to consider it," Hogan told reporters Tuesday afternoon. "Just because you can win a race doesn't mean that's the job you should do if your heart's not in it. And I just didn't see myself being a U.S. senator."

Hogan also quipped that he called incumbent Sen. Chris Van Hollen (D-MD) "to let him know that he can rest easy and get a good night's sleep tonight."

Both Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell and Sen. Rick Scott (R-FL), who chairs the National Republican Senatorial Committee, had reportedly been working hard to persuade Hogan to run for Senate this year to help the GOP regain a majority in the chamber.

Hogan, who has served as Maryland's governor since 2015, is term-limited and not allowed to run for reelection.

The Associated Press reported in January that Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME) and former Secretary of Transportation Elaine Chao had also been enlisted in the effort to persuade Hogan to run.

This is not the first recent high-profile recruiting failure for Senate Republicans in a state carried by President Joe Biden.

In November, New Hampshire Gov. Chris Sununu rejected the party leaders' attempts to get him to challenge Sen. Maggie Hassan (D-NH).

Sununu pointed directly to McConnell and his caucus' obstruction of nearly all legislation as a reason he did not want to be a GOP senator, observing that "too often, doing nothing is considered a win."

He openly observed that the Republican incumbents recruiting him seemed generally "content with the speed at which they weren't doing anything," adding, "OK, so I'm just going to be a roadblock for two years. That's not what I do."

McConnell and Scott also reportedly tried to convince Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey to mount a challenge against Democratic Sen. Mark Kelly. Ducey, who had previously disclaimed interest in the race, said last Thursday that his answer "hasn't changed."

Van Hollen is considered by political experts to be a heavy favorite to win a second term in a solidly blue state. But Hogan is the very rare Republican who has managed to be elected statewide in Maryland in recent decades, winning reelection in 2018 by nearly 12 points.

A recent internal GOP poll showed Hogan ahead in a hypothetical Senate matchup against Van Hollen, 49-37 percent.

Hogan has presented himself as an independent-minded moderate who rejected Trump. This did not stop him from advocating for GOP control of the U.S. Senate in the 2020 Georgia runoff elections or from using his position as co-chair of the No Labels super PAC to oppose Biden's popular agenda in the name of "bipartisanship."

But as Trump and his supporters have pushed to get revenge against his critics and drive them out of the party, there appears to be little room for even slightly centrist Republicans.

Last week, Hogan rebuked the Republican National Committee for censuring two House Republicans, Reps. Liz Cheney (WY) and Adam Kinzinger (IL), for their role in investigating the January 6, 2021, attack on the U.S. Capitol that was carried out by Trump supporters.

"The GOP I believe in is the party of freedom and truth," Hogan tweeted on February 4. "It's a sad day for my party — and the country — when you're punished just for expressing your beliefs, standing on principle, and refusing to tell blatant lies."

Reprinted with permission from American Independent

QAnon Promoter Seeks Maryland GOP Governor Nomination

Reprinted with permission from American Independent

Maryland state Del. Daniel Cox (R), now a candidate for governor, has in the past expressed support for the debunked QAnon conspiracy theory.

Cox announced on Sunday that he would be seeking the Republican nomination for governor of Maryland. The current governor, Republican Larry Hogan, is term-limited and cannot seek a third consecutive term in office. Two other Republican candidates are currently seeking the nomination and nine Democrats are running for their party's nomination.

Cox, an outspoken supporter of Trump, used the hashtag "WWG1WGA" in an October 2020 tweet that warned that Biden was "dark and oppressed" and would "lock us in our homes."

The acronym "WWG1WGA" stands for "when we go one, we go all" and rose to prominence for its connection to the QAnon conspiracy theory. QAnon devotees believe that celebrities and elected officials are part of a worldwide child trafficking network. Those claims have repeatedly been debunked.

Hogan in January referred to Cox as a "QAnon conspiracy theorist" and criticized the delegate for lawsuits he filed against the state that attacked mask mandates designed to halt the spread of the virus. (Cox also works as a lawyer).

"I know he filed suit against us multiple times, [he's] a QAnon conspiracy theorist who says crazy things every day," Hogan said of his fellow Republican.

In addition to his QAnon background, Cox called for a "forensic audit of the 2020 election" in the video accompanying the launch of his gubernatorial campaign, a reference to right-wing conspiracy theories that have emerged since Trump lost to Biden.

Many Republicans have been pushing for other states to emulate the flawed election "audit" currently underway in Arizona, led by GOP state lawmakers.

Cox has previously promoted election conspiracies. He organized buses to transport protesters to the "stop the steal" rally in Washington on January 6, and as Trump supporters attacked the Capitol, Cox tweeted, "Pence is a traitor."

The website Maryland Matters noted that on the same day, Cox promoted tweets that falsely claimed antifa was behind the Capitol attack.

Cox later released a statement denouncing the attack after some called for his expulsion from the Maryland General Assembly.

Cox is a former member of Alliance Defending Freedom, which the Southern Poverty Law Center has designated as a hate group opposed to LGBTQ rights. In 2017, Cox filed suit against a Maryland high school, alleging that allowing students to use bathrooms aligned with their gender identity violated the rights of a female student.

While the current governor of Maryland is a Republican, it is expected that the seat may tilt toward Democrats. Cook Political Report rates the race as "lean Democratic." In 2020, Maryland overwhelming voted for President Joe Biden over former President Donald Trump, by a margin of 65 percent to 32 percent. Both of Maryland's senators are Democrats and seven out of the state's eight House representatives are Democrats.

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.

Misleading Voices In Right-Wing Media Promoted Virus Spread

Reprinted with permission from Alternet

Although some GOP governors have joined their Democratic counterparts in aggressively promoting social distancing during the coronavirus pandemic — including Maryland's Larry Hogan and Massachusetts' Charlie Baker — President Donald Trump and much of the right-wing media, from Fox News to AM talk radio, have failed to take the crisis seriously. And according to Washington Post reporter Christopher Ingraham, some recent studies offer a damning indictment of right-wing media coverage of the pandemic.

"In recent weeks," Ingraham explains, "three studies have focused on conservative media's role in fostering confusion about the seriousness of the coronavirus. Taken together, they paint a picture of a media ecosystem that amplifies misinformation, entertains conspiracy theories and discourages audiences from taking concrete steps to protect themselves and others. The end result, according to one of the studies, is that infection and mortality rates are higher in places where one pundit who initially downplayed the severity of the pandemic — Fox News' Sean Hannity — reaches the largest audiences."

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GOP Governor Blasted Trump's Testing Claims As 'Absolutely False'

Donald Trump's attempt to blame governors for the lack of adequate nationwide coronavirus testing by falsely claiming there are plenty of available tests was shot down by governors of both parties on Sunday.

"They don't want to use all of the capacity that we've created," Trump falsely stated at a Sunday press conference. "We have tremendous capacity. ...They know that. The governors know that. The Democrat governors know that; they're the ones that are complaining."

Trump is wrong, according to Larry Hogan, the Republican governor of Maryland."To try to push this off, to say that the governors have plenty of testing and they should just get to work on testing, somehow we aren't doing our job, is just absolutely false," Hogan, who is also chair of the National Governors Association, said Sunday on CNN.

"It's not accurate to say 'there's plenty of testing out there and the governors should just get it done.' That's just not being straightforward," Hogan added.

Hogan was not the only governor to call out Trump's lie.

"That's just delusional to be making statements like that," Gov. Ralph Northam (D-VA) told CNN on Sunday. "We have been fighting for testing," Northam said. It's not a — it's not a straightforward test. We don't even have enough swabs, believe it or not. And we're ramping that up. But for the national level to say that we have what we need and really to have no guidance to the state levels is just irresponsible, because we're not there yet."

Scientists at Harvard University estimate that the United States needs to test between 500,000 and 700,000 people per day in order to be able to reopen the economy by mid-May, the New York Times reported on Friday. Currently, the country is testing less than 150,000 people per day on average.

On March 10, Vice President Pence vowed that 4 million tests would be available by the end of the week. On March 13, Trump promised 5 million tests would be available by the end of March.

The administration broke those promises.

More than a month after Pence and Trump made the declarations, the number of Americans tested stood at 3.6 million on Friday, according to the Times.

The Trump administration was slow to ramp up testing after refusing to use a testing protocol published by the World Health Organization, and then an initial test developed by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention was flawed.

As of Monday morning, there are more than 753,000 confirmed cases in the U.S., according to the New York Times, and at least 36,109 people have died.

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.

Trump Tax Law Meant To Help Poor Actually Made A Billionaire Richer

Under a six-lane span of freeway leading into downtown Baltimore sit what may be the most valuable parking spaces in America.

Lying near a development project controlled by Under Armour’s billionaire CEO Kevin Plank, one of Maryland’s richest men, and Goldman Sachs, the little sliver of land will allow Plank and the other investors to claim what could amount to millions in tax breaks for the project, known as Port Covington.

They have President Donald Trump’s 2017 tax overhaul law to thank. The new law has a provision meant to spur investment into underdeveloped areas, called “opportunity zones.” The idea is to grant lucrative tax breaks to encourage new investment in poor areas around the country, carefully selected by each state’s governor.

But Port Covington, an ambitious development geared to millennials to feature offices, a hotel, apartments, and shopping, is not in a census tract that is poor. It’s not a new investment. And the census tract only became eligible to be an opportunity zone thanks to a mapping error.

As the selection process was underway, a deputy chief of staff to Maryland’s governor wrote in an email that “Port Covington does not qualify” as an opportunity zone.

Maryland’s governor chose the area for the program anyway — after his aides met with the lobbyists for Plank, who owns about 40% of the zone.

“This is a classic example of a windfall benefit,” said Robert Stoker, a George Washington University professor who has studied economic development in Baltimore for decades. “A major investment was already planned and now is in a zone where they are going to qualify for all kinds of beneficial tax treatment.”

In selecting Port Covington, the governor had to exclude another Maryland community from the opportunity zone program. In Baltimore, for example, the governor dropped part of a neighborhood that city officials recommended for the program — Brooklyn — with a median family income one-fifth that of Port Covington. Brooklyn sits just across the Patapsco river from Port Covington, in an area that suffers from one of the highest drug and alcohol death rates in Baltimore, which in turn has one of the highest drug fatality rates nationwide.

In a statement, Marc Weller, a developer who is Plank’s partner in the project, defended the opportunity zone designation. “Port Covington being part of an Opportunity Zone will attract more investors, foster more economic growth in a neglected area of the City, and directly benefit all of the surrounding communities for decades to come,” Weller said. Supporters say the Port Covington development could help several nearby struggling south Baltimore neighborhoods.

An official in the administration of Maryland’s Republican governor, Larry Hogan, said, “The success of that project is really going to go a long way to providing benefits for the whole city of Baltimore.” The official added: “The governor is a huge supporter of the development.”

A spokesperson for the state’s Department of Housing and Community Development, which was involved in the selection process, said that “due to the time limits of the federal tax incentive, the state of Maryland did purposefully select census tracts where projects were beginning to increase the odds of attracting additional private sector investment to Maryland’s opportunity zones in the near term.”

In December 2017, Trump signed the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, his signature legislative achievement. Much criticized as a giveaway to the rich, the law includes one headline provision that backers promised would help the poor: opportunity zones. (Listen to the “Trump, Inc.” episode where we travel to an opportunity zone where the Kushner Companies owns large tracts of property.)

Supporters of the program argued it would unleash economic development in otherwise overlooked communities. “Our goal is to rebuild homes, schools, businesses and communities that need it the most,“ Trump declared at a recent event, adding, “To revitalize these areas, we’ve lowered the capital gains tax for long-term investment in opportunity zones all the way down to a very big, fat, beautiful number of zero.”

The provision has bipartisan support. “These cities are gold mines,” New Jersey Sen. Cory Booker, a 2020 presidential hopeful and main Democratic architect of the program, told real estate investors in October. “They’re domestic emerging markets that are more exciting than anything you’ll see overseas.”

Here’s how the program works. Say you’re a hedge fund manager, you purchased Google stock years ago, and are sitting on $1 billion in gains. If you sell, you’d send the IRS about $240 million, a lot less than ordinary income tax but still annoying. To avoid paying that much, you can sell the shares and put the $1 billion into an opportunity zone. That comes with three generous breaks. The first is that you defer that $240 million in capital gains tax, allowing you to invest more money up front. But if that’s not enough for you, you can hold the investment for several years and you’ll get a significant reduction in those taxes. What’s more, any additional gains from the new investment are tax-free after 10 years.

It’s impossible to predict how much the tax break will be worth to individual investors because it depends on several variables, not least whether the underlying project gains in value. But one investment pitch projected 10-year returns would jump to 91 percent from 29 percent on a hypothetical $1 million investment. That includes $284,000 in tax breaks — money the federal government would have collected from taxpayers with capital gains but for the program.

The tax code already favored real estate developers like Trump, and his overhaul made it even friendlier. Investors can put money into a range of projects in opportunity zones, but so far most of the publicly announced deals are in real estate. The tax break has led to a marketing boom, with Wall Street pitching investors to raise funds to invest in the zones. Critics argue that the program is flawed, pointing out that there’s no guarantee that the capital investment will help community residents, that the selection process was vulnerable to outside influence, and that it could be a giveaway for projects that were going to happen anyway. In a case in Chicago uncovered by the Real Deal, two tracts already slated for a major development project were selected by the governor as opportunity zones even though city officials hadn’t initially recommended them.

Under the new law, areas of the country deemed to be “low-income communities” would be eligible to be named opportunity zones. The Treasury Department determined which census tracts qualified. Then governors of each state could select one quarter of those tracts to get the tax benefit.

That governor prerogative turned out to be very useful to Kevin Plank.

In 2012, Plank-connected entities quietly began buying up waterfront property on a largely vacant and isolated peninsula south of downtown Baltimore. Often using shell companies to shield the identity of the true buyer, they ultimately spent more than $100 million acquiring much of the peninsula. Plank’s privately held Sagamore Development now controls roughly 40 percent of the area that would later be named an opportunity zone.

In early 2015, more than two and a half years before Trump’s tax law passed, Plank revealed himself as the money behind the purchases. He planned a new development and headquarters for Under Armour, the sports apparel company he started after coming up with the idea as a University of Maryland football player. Today, Under Armour employs 15,000 people. Plank has a net worth of around $2 billion.

Though the Port Covington area was cut off from downtown by I-95, Plank said he likes the location because of the visibility. “When people drive through Baltimore [on I-95] I literally want them to drive through and go, ’There’s Baltimore on the right. There’s Under Armour on the left,’” he told The Baltimore Sun.

A year later, Plank’s firm took his vision to the general public, running TV and print ads touting the new project. One of the ads, reminiscent of the Democratic presidential primary spots airing at that time, was filled with a diverse cast sharing their dreams for a new city within a city.

“We will build it. Together,” the ad begins, before running through a glittering digital rendering of contemporary urban design features. Office towers, shops, transit, parks, jobs — all of it to be anchored by a new world headquarters of the city’s most visible brand name, Under Armour. Sagamore would spearhead the project and sell land to others who would build businesses and housing.

Even before qualifying for the opportunity zone break, taxpayers were going to subsidize the development. Days after the ads touting togetherness, Plank proposed that the city float $660 million in bonds to help build what the company has said would be a $5.5 billion development. Opponents contended Plank’s proposal amounted to corporate welfare that would exacerbate the city’s stark economic and racial divides. But the company agreed to provide millions of dollars to the city and a group of nearby low-income neighborhoods to gain support for the project, and the City Council passed the measure that fall.

As Under Armour’s stock plummeted in 2017 amid slowing sales growth, progress on the Port Covington project lagged. That September, Goldman Sachs stepped in to commit $233 million from its Urban Investment Group. Hogan, himself a real estate developer, personally spoke with the then-CEO of Goldman, Lloyd Blankfein, about the deal.

In the weeks after the 2017 federal tax overhaul passed, Plank’s team spotted an opportunity.

Nick Manis, a veteran Annapolis lobbyist who has also represented the Baltimore Ravens, reached out to Hogan’s chief of staff about Port Covington, according to emails obtained by ProPublica through a public records request. The developers and their lobbyists had given at least $24,000 to Hogan’s campaigns in recent years.

But the developers had a problem.

The Friday before the meeting, a deputy chief of staff to the governor wrote in an email that “Port Covington does not qualify” for the coveted tax breaks.

The Port Covington tract, which includes a gentrified corner of South Baltimore north of the largely empty peninsula, was too wealthy to be an opportunity zone. There is a second provision of the law for wealthier tracts: A tract can qualify if it is adjacent to a low-income area. But Port Covington failed that test, too. Its median family income — nearly 160 percent of Maryland’s — exceeded the income cap even for that provision.

Port Covington was out — unless the tract could somehow be considered low-income in its own right.

On Feb. 5, the Port Covington development team arrived at the second floor of the statehouse in the opulent governor’s reception room to meet with top Hogan aides. The agenda for the meeting included opportunity zones, as well as transit and infrastructure issues. The developer’s team requested that the Port Covington tract be made an opportunity zone. The state officials “acknowledged their interest in receiving that designation,” a Hogan administration official said.

Three days after that meeting, Plank and the Port Covington developers got bad news. The Treasury Department released a list of census tracts across the country that were sufficiently poor to be included in the program. Port Covington was not included in that list.

Three weeks later, however, things turned around. The Treasury Department issued a revised list. The agency said it had left out some tracts in error. The revised list included 168 new areas across the country defined by the agency as “low-income communities.”

This time, Port Covington made the cut.

It couldn’t have qualified because its residents were poor. It couldn’t qualify because it was next to some place that was poor. But the tract could qualify under yet another provision of the law. Some tracts could make the cut if they had fewer than 2,000 people and if they were “within” what’s known as an empowerment zone. That was a Clinton-era redevelopment initiative also aimed at low-income areas.

Port Covington wasn’t actually within an empowerment zone, but it is next to one. So how did it qualify? The area met the definition of “within” because the digital map files the Treasury Department used showed that Port Covington overlapped with a neighboring tract that was designated an empowerment zone, Treasury officials told ProPublica.

That overlap: the sliver of parking lot beneath I-395. That piece of the lot is about one one-thousandth of a square mile.

There are no regulations or guidance on how to interpret the tax law’s use of “within,” said a spokesman for the Treasury Department’s Community Development Financial Institutions Fund, which compiled the maps. The agency made what it called a “technical decision” that any partial overlap with an Empowerment Zone would count as being “within” that zone — no matter how small the area, or if anyone lived there.

Or, if the overlap was even real.

Turns out, no part of Port Covington actually overlapped with the empowerment zone.

Treasury’s decision ignored a well-known problem in geographic analysis known as misalignment, mapping experts said.

Misalignment happens when the lines on digital maps made by two sources differ slightly about where things like roads and buildings lie, according to Henry Luan, a professor of geography at the University of Oregon.

For example, if a tract ends at a highway, one file might show the border on the near side of the highway while another — when zoomed all the way in — might show it a few feet away on the far side. When laid on top of each other, the two files end up with minuscule differences that don’t mean anything in the real world.

Except in this case, it had big real world consequences for Port Covington. The mapping error allowed the entire tract to qualify as an opportunity zone.

“That area of overlap is a complete artifact of” the map files Treasury used, said David Van Riper, director of spatial analysis at the Minnesota Population Center. “It’s not an actual overlap.”

Sometime in the mid-2000s, the Census Bureau used GPS devices to make its map files more accurately represent the country’s roads. One of the maps used by Treasury appeared to be based on the older, less accurate Census maps, Van Riper said.

Even accepting Treasury’s misaligned maps, the entire Port Covington tract receives tax benefits, even though less than 0.3% of it overlaps with the neighboring tract.

“Only a minimal overlap, but you make the whole Census tract benefit from the policy?” Luan said. “That doesn’t make sense to me.”

Port Covington is one of just a handful of tracts in the country that ProPublica identified that qualified through similar flaws in Treasury’s process.

Nothing indicates the Port Covington developers had any influence on the Treasury’s decision.

But the lobbying of the governor before the Treasury change appears to have paid off.

As they were lobbying, Baltimore officials were working out which parts of the city would benefit most from being opportunity zones. They petitioned the governor to pick 41 low-income city neighborhoods to get the tax break, all of them well below the program’s maximum income requirements.

The city’s list remained largely intact when the governor made his selections in April. Hogan made just four changes, three of which qualified under the main criteria without the benefit of the mapping error. But the fourth didn’t: Port Covington.

Plank’s team cheered the revision. The very thing that made Port Covington a poor candidate to be an opportunity zone — that it wasn’t a low-income area — could make it exceptionally attractive to investors. In January, they convened an opportunity zone conference at their Port Covington incubator called City Garage featuring state officials and executives from Goldman, Deloitte, and other firms.

“Port Covington kind of fits all the needs,” said Marc Weller, Plank’s partner, at the conference. “It has all the entitlements, and it has a financial partner in place as well. It’s probably the most premier piece of land in the United States that’s in an opportunity zone.”

The opportunity zone program has restrictions intended to prevent already-planned developments from benefitting. But the Port Covington developers told Bloomberg that the firm will be able to reap the benefits of the tax break because it has found new investors. Among the potential new investors who might take advantage of the tax break are Plank’s own family, one of the developers told the Baltimore Business Journal. A Port Covington spokesman denied that Plank’s family members are potential investors.

To get the maximum benefit, investments need to be made in 2019, though investments made through 2026 can take advantage of growth tax-free. Only a portion of the Port Covington project is expected to be underway by then.

A Goldman spokesman said it is “likely” that the firm will take advantage of the opportunity zone benefits in Port Covington, adding that it has “made no firm decisions about how each component will be financed.”

Margaret Anadu, the head of Goldman’s Urban Investment Group and the lead on the Port Covington investment, recently said of the opportunity zone program: “These are the same neighborhoods that have been suffering since redline started decades and decades ago, pretty much eliminating private investment. … And so we simply have to reverse that. And the only way to reverse that is to start to bring that private capital back into these neighborhoods.”

The Port Covington tract is just 4% black. For it to be included in the program, another community somewhere in Maryland had to be excluded. The ones that the city suggested that were excluded by the governor, for example, are 68% black and have a poverty rate three times higher than Port Covington’s.

There is some evidence suggesting being named an opportunity zone has already been a boon for property owners. An analysis by Zillow found that sale price gains in opportunity zones significantly outpaced gains in eligible tracts that weren’t selected. Real Capital Analytics found that sales of developable sites in the zones rose 24 percent in the year after the law passed.

Under Armour has said it’s still committed to building its new headquarters on the peninsula, but it’s not clear when that will happen.

Still, other aspects of the once-stalled project finally started moving forward in recent months. After presenting plans for the first section inside the opportunity zone this winter, the project finally got underway on a rainy day in early May of this year.

“The project is real,” Weller said at the kickoff event, which included Anadu, the Goldman Sachs executive, and city and state officials. “The project is starting. We’re open for business.”

ProPublica is a Pulitzer Prize-winning investigative newsroom. Sign up for The Big Story newsletter to receive stories like this one in your inbox.

IMAGE: Artist rendering of proposed Port Covington development in Baltimore, MD.

Why Trump Should Fear Nikki Haley

Donald Trump is the most vulnerable incumbent president in decades. Struggling with a stubbornly low approval rating, plagued by scandal, and facing a raft of criminal and civil investigations, he threatens to take his party down to an epic defeat if he’s renominated. You’d think Republicans might be open to an alternative.

But you can’t beat somebody with nobody, and practically speaking, nobody is the present alternative. So far, Trump has only one GOP challenger, former Massachusetts Gov. William Weld. Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan is publicly pondering a race. Former Ohio Gov. John Kasich is also a possible entrant.

None of them is likely to pose much danger to Trump. All come from the moderate wing of the party, which is not so much a wing as a handful of feathers. They might appeal to many independents and even some Democrats. But Republicans are not going to abandon a president who has relentlessly catered to conservatives on taxes, abortion, immigration, judges and Iran.

The history of serious challenges to incumbent presidents is that they don’t arise from the middle of the spectrum. They spring from the left in the Democratic Party and the right in the Republican Party. The rebels could claim to speak for the hardcore faithful, not the soothing centrists.

In 1992, it was Pat Buchanan who mounted a mutiny. He vilified George H.W. Bush for breaking his promise not to raise taxes, and he railed against gay rights, abortion, free trade and immigrants. He got nearly 38 percent of the vote in the New Hampshire primary.

In 1980, President Jimmy Carter, dogged by high inflation and gas lines, had to contend with Sen. Ted Kennedy, whose family embodied modern liberalism. Kennedy won a dozen contests in the Democratic campaign.

The most successful challenge, however, came in 1968, when Eugene McCarthy, vocally opposing the Vietnam War, stunned President Lyndon Johnson by getting 42 percent of the vote in New Hampshire. Johnson soon excused himself.

Those examples illustrate why Trump is not going to fall to a Weld or a Kasich. If anyone is going to bring him down in the Republican primaries, it will be someone with powerful appeal to the base voters, who have stuck with Trump so far.

Who would that be? The most plausible candidate is his former U.N. ambassador, Nikki Haley. She is assumed to be looking to a 2024 presidential bid.

But if she is not primed to jump in if and when Trump suffers a major setback, she is missing what could be the chance of a lifetime.

Her assets are hard to overstate. She’s an uncompromising Reaganite who thrilled hawks with her aggressive rhetoric at the U.N. Critical of Trump in the primaries, she was a loyal soldier after he won. She somehow managed to stay in his good graces and depart the administration with her reputation intact, a feat akin to staying dry while swimming in a rainstorm.

Haley has not been so rash as to challenge any important article of right-wing dogma. As governor of South Carolina, Haley got a 100 percent rating from the National Rifle Association, won the endorsement of the anti-tax Club for Growth PAC and got a score of zero from NARAL Pro-Choice America.

Compared with Trump, she is more closely aligned with congressional Republicans on policy toward Russia, NATO and Saudi Arabia. If she were to run against him, she would draw on a large stock of conservative goodwill.

Could she win? Given today’s conditions, no. But conditions are likely to get worse for Trump, not better. Republicans would be strongly reluctant to abandon him — unless he looked like a sure loser and they had an alluring alternative at hand. Haley would be exactly that.

She might be the candidate Democrats would least like to run against. She would be more than capable of uniting the GOP. But as a first-generation Indian-American woman who removed the Confederate flag from the South Carolina statehouse grounds, she would also be relatively well-positioned to appeal to some independents who find Trump distasteful, if not repulsive.

Trump may figure that the Republican electorate will stick with him no matter what, and he may be right. But with the right timing, Haley could put that loyalty to a real test.

Steve Chapman blogs at http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/opinion/chapman. Follow him on Twitter @SteveChapman13 or at https://www.facebook.com/stevechapman13. To find out more about Steve Chapman and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate website at www.creators.com.

IMAGE: South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley speaks at the National Press Club in Washington September 2, 2015. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque

Republican Governors Kasich, Hogan Say They Will Not Vote For Trump: ‘I Just Can’t Do It’

Two more names join the list of prominent Republican governors who are not supporting their presumptive nominee, Donald Trump. Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan and Ohio Gov. John Kasich announced on Tuesday and Wednesday, respectively, that they’ve hopped on the #NeverTrump train.

When asked by reporters if he would be voting for Trump, Hogan replied “No, I don’t plan to.”

Kasich, who made a pledge to support the 2016 Republican candidate, said his decision to violate the pledge was “painful.”

“I’m sorry this has happened. We’ll see where it ends up. I’m not making a final decision yet but at this point I just can’t do it,” the Ohio governor said, before adding that he was open to change his decision if Trump toned down his anti-minority attacks.

Hogan and Kasich join Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker and Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder, who have also stated they will not be supporting the presumptive Republican nominee.

 

Video: WJZ-13 Baltimore, MSNBC

Maryland Governor Announces He’s Been Diagnosed With Cancer

By Luke Broadwater and Scott Dance, The Baltimore Sun (TNS)

BALTIMORE — Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan said Monday he’s been diagnosed with a “very advanced and very aggressive” cancer.

The governor said he learned of the illness last week after returning from a trade mission to Asia. He said the cancer had spread to multiple parts of his body, but he expected to fight and beat the disease.

“It’s one that responds very aggressively to chemotherapy treatment,” Hogan said. “There’s a strong chance of success.”

Non-Hodgkin lymphoma is a cancer of the lymphatic system, a key part of the immune system. The system, which includes the lymph nodes, spleen and other organs, collects cellular fluid around the body and returns it to the bloodstream. The cancer begins with an abnormal lymph system cell known as a lymphocyte and can easily spread throughout the body through the lymph system.

Hogan hugged family and staff members after making the afternoon announcement in Annapolis.

“This weekend my family celebrated Father’s Day,” the Republican governor said. “For me, even though I had some really tough news to deliver to them, it was a special and heartfelt time to be with family.”

He said he planned to continue to work as governor while undergoing treatment.

“Most likely I’m going to lose my hair,” he said. “I may trim down a little bit. I won’t stop working to change Maryland for the better. I’ll be working hard. … I’m going to miss a few meetings. But I’m still going to be constantly involved.”

Hogan said he underwent a “minor surgery” last week. He said the disease caught him by surprise.

“I had a little bit of pain in my back,” he said. “I though it was a pulled muscle. It turned out to be a tumor. I still feel good.”

Seventy percent of those with non-Hodgkin lymphoma survived five years after their diagnosis, according to the National Cancer Institute. About 2 percent of the population will be diagnosed with the illness in their lifetime, and there were about 550,000 people living with it in the U.S. in 2012, according to the institute.

Non-Hodgkin lymphoma makes up about 4 percent of all new cancer cases and 3 percent of cancer deaths, with about 20,000 deaths expected this year, according to the cancer institute. It is the seventh-most common type of cancer.

Several Democratic lawmakers immediately sent Hogan well-wishes.

“I am going to definitely pray for him tonight,” said Del. Curt Anderson, a Baltimore Democrat. “He is a young man and has a big job in front of him, and we need his leadership.”

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(The Baltimore Sun’s Yvonne Wenger contributed to this report.)

Photo via Larry Hogan for Governor.