Larry Hogan Needs To Condemn Show Trials To Save Senate Campaign

Former Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan’s path to the U.S. Senate is already challenging, and his recent comments regarding the New York trial of Donald Trump have only made it more difficult. To recover from this misstep, Hogan must unequivocally condemn what many see as a politically motivated prosecution against Trump.

Last week, Hogan stated that Americans should “respect” the outcome of Trump’s New York trial, a stance that many Republicans view as a significant error. The trial, which many have likened to a Soviet show trial or a third-world kangaroo court, has been widely criticized for its partisan nature. Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg, who campaigned on prosecuting Trump, brought 34 felony indictments that even many Democrats initially viewed as weak and politically motivated.

Throughout the trial, Judge Juan Merchan, who has personal and familial ties to anti-Trump efforts, was accused of running a biased court. He allowed improper prosecution testimony and disallowed expert defense witnesses, leading to a swift guilty verdict from a jury in one of the most anti-Trump areas of the country.

For Hogan, a successful Senate run in overwhelmingly Democratic Maryland hinges on maintaining Republican support while appealing to independents and some Democrats. His recent ad emphasized his independence, stating that neither Republicans nor Democrats could count on his vote. However, his perceived endorsement of the Trump trial verdict alienates many potential Republican voters.

To navigate this political minefield, Hogan must pivot and denounce the trial’s political motivations. He should highlight that while he opposes Trump, he stands firmly against the abuse of the legal system for political ends. Doing so would align him with the broader Republican sentiment and demonstrate his commitment to the rule of law.

In 2016, politicians like Sen. Kelly Ayotte and Rep. Joe Heck miscalculated by distancing themselves from Trump following the Access Hollywood tape release, a move that ultimately cost them politically. Hogan should learn from this and avoid endorsing what many see as unjust legal proceedings.

The Republican Party is broad enough to include anti-Trump figures like Hogan, but not those who support what is viewed as politically motivated show trials. Every potential Hogan supporter understands the importance of the rule of law and equal justice. By failing to oppose such trials, Hogan risks losing critical support.

In 2024, defending these trials is both politically unwise and unprincipled. Hogan must decide whether he is running to add a moderate voice to the Senate or simply to damage Republican prospects by echoing extreme Democratic talking points. If it’s the former, he must speak out against lawfare.

Hogan doesn’t need to match the fervor of staunch Trump defenders like Sen. Mike Lee or Sen. Marco Rubio, but he should at least match the more tempered critiques from figures like Mitt Romney. Even Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell and his potential successor Sen. John Thune have provided lip service against politically motivated prosecutions.

Hogan needs to affirm that elections should be decided by voters, not through politically driven legal battles. If he fails to do so, Republican voters and donors should reconsider their support, as his current trajectory offers little chance of success.