EXCLUSIVE: Republican Gov. Larry Hogan‘s campaign to pump $150 million into Maryland’s law enforcement agencies and to victims of violent crime is front and center as the term-limited governor heads into his final year in office.
But Hogan, who’s raised his national profile in recent years and whom some political pundits see as a possible 2024 GOP White House hopeful, is not confining his push to refund the police just to his home state.
Hogan headlined a fundraiser on Friday night in Fairfax County, Virginia, for Jason Miyares, that state’s GOP nominee for attorney general.
“In today’s environment, when far too often our police officers are unfairly criticized and don’t get the appreciation or the respect that they deserve, these men and women need to know that they have the support of their leaders,” Hogan said in his address, which was shared first with Fox News. “With Jason Miyares as attorney general, Virginia’s law enforcement will know he has their backs and the people of the great commonwealth will be safer for it.”
This week the Hogan aligned advocacy group An America United is going up with a digital ad spotlighting Hogan’s message.
“To reverse the tide of rising crime, we need to stop demonizing and sabotaging the dedicated men and women who risk their lives every single day to keep the rest of us safe. Instead, we’re going to refund the police,” Hogan emphasizes in the video.
After last year’s death of George Floyd, a Black man who died at the hands of a White police officer in Minneapolis, and the resulting nationwide protests over racial inequity, the issues of crime and defunding the police became a major topics in the 2020 presidential and congressional elections. And coverage of the big-city crime spike, which started last year during the coronavirus pandemic, skyrocketed both locally and nationally earlier this year.
Hogan was outspoken as early as last summer in his opposition to calls to defund the police. He called it “the worst idea I can possibly imagine” in a July 2020 interview with Fox News.
And in his 2020 book “Still Standing,” the governor went into detail about his experience dealing with the 2015 Baltimore riots after the death of Black man Freddie Gray while being transported during police custody.
“I think it’s a terrible mistake,” Hogan said of the moves last year by Seattle, Portland and some other cities that restricted their law enforcement in dealing with unrest. “And it was sort of a problem in the city of Baltimore in 2015 that we saw, where the mayor of the city said that she was going to allow, give protesters room to destroy and wasn’t going to stop them. That’s when I decided as governor to come in.”
Hogan called for increasing funding for police in an opinion piece for Fox News in June. He called for making “it easier for police to target and lock up violent criminals,” and to “enact reasonable reforms that will improve trust between police and the communities they serve.”
“We can reverse the tide of rising crime, but we can’t do it if we’re attacking the men and women who are working to keep us safe,” he argued.
Hogan a week and a half ago unveiled his initiative in Maryland, which would direct tens of millions of dollars to police, neighborhood safety grants, body camera and other accountability measures for officers and other programs. Hogan called it “a desperately needed shot in the arm to our state and local police agencies.”
But the leaders in the Democratic-controlled state legislature blasted Hogan’s proposal, calling it “misguided” and “divisive rhetoric.”
The headlining of the Miyares fundraiser in Virginia wasn’t his first political stop outside his home state – he also campaigned last month for Virginia Republican gubernatorial nominee Glenn Youngkin, in Georgia for GOP Gov. Brian Kemp, who’s running for reelection next year, and he gave the keynote address in Florida at a conference hosted by Republican Main Street Partnership, a moderate GOP group.
And it won’t be his last.
A Hogan political aide tells Fox News that the governor plans to continue travelling across the country, adding that refunding the police is key area of his focus in Maryland and nationwide.
Fox News’ Tyler Olson contributed to this report