Friday, September 18, 2009

The Indecisive Candidate

Recently, former State Insurance Commissioner Larry Hogan announced that he was forming a Gubernatorial exploratory committee. Hogan is a successful businessman, has experience in Maryland's executive branch, and has a proven record in politics - in 1992, he came the closest anyone has come to defeating the current House Democratic Majority Leader Steny Hoyer. In 1994, when Republicans took control of the House, the candidate did not do as well as Hogan performed in 1992...with Bill Clinton taking Maryland by a decent margin.

Sounds like a potentially strong candidate for Governor. What's the problem? Larry Hogan is not decisively entering the race. Instead, Hogan is "testing the waters" and will not run if Bob Ehrlich decides to run. Hogan said, "Should my friend [Bob Ehrlich] decide to run, he would have my enthusiastic support, as he always has, and nobody would work harder for him."

Now, I like Bob Ehrlich as much as the next Republican in Maryland. I think he was a great Governor and I think he'd be a great candidate if he decided to run in 2010. But, he's not running at the moment. He's not a candidate for office. If you are announcing you are considering a run for office - don't add in caveats.

If you are considering a run for the highest office in the State, you must be doing so because you feel you are the best person for the job. You feel that you are the most qualified and most capable of being the next Governor. As such, you need to convince the electorate that you are the most qualified and most competent person for the job. If you do not feel that way and you say as much when you announce - you will not gain that much confidence from voters. When Hogan announced he was forming his exploratory committee, he basically said that, "Ehrlich is more qualified than me, but if he doesn't run, I'll take a stab at it." You can't inspire support in you as the most tested and ready person for the job when your announcement tells the audience that you don't believe so yourself.

Therein lies the problem. As Rick Lazio has done in New York, people need to stop waiting for the party's "preferred candidate" to step to the plate. If you want to be the next Governor, then run enthusiastically. Spend time building up a coalition of supporters, stop waiting. If Ehrlich runs - then he runs. If he doesn't, we need to have candidates ready to take the leap into the race and ready to give it their all in a race for Governor. Playing the "wait and see" card will only weaken ones candidacy.

I honestly think Larry Hogan has a great deal to offer Maryland as a potential candidate. Let's hope he decides to act like a candidate who's in the race to win - and not a candidate in the race until his friend makes up his mind about it.

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