President Donald Trump had been looming over Maryland’s U.S. Senate race, unclear whether he’d promote or punish Republican nominee and sometimes-nemesis Larry Hogan.

Some clarity arrived on Thursday afternoon, when Trump told a Fox News reporter that — despite years of bad blood between the two GOP leaders — he was supporting Hogan and hoped he would win.

But now that Trump has made a statement in the race, it raises more questions about how his words will affect the chances of Hogan, a two-term former governor, and Democratic nominee Angela Alsobrooks, currently the Prince George’s County executive.

Former President Donald Trump said he supports Larry Hogan for the U.S. Senate, but Hogan’s team says he still will not vote to reelect the ex-president. (Daniel Kucin Jr./AP)

Why does Trump support Hogan?

We reached out to the Trump campaign, via emails and text messages, to seek more information about the former president’s position and did not hear back. We also don’t know if Trump plans to do any active work on Hogan’s behalf, such as raising money or appearing in Maryland.

The Baltimore Banner thanks its sponsors. Become one.

What we do know is that Trump’s statement did not appear to be planned — or particularly enthusiastic. It wasn’t delivered through a press release or social media announcement; rather, he answered a reporter’s question about Hogan, among other political questions.

“Are you going to support Larry Hogan to win that Senate seat?” Fox News reporter Aishah Hasnie asked Trump.

His response: “Yeah, I’d like to see him win. I think he has a good chance to win. I would like to see him win.”

“So you’re endorsing him?” Hasnie asked.

“Well, nobody’s asked me that,” Trump said. “But essentially I would be endorsing him, yeah.”

The Baltimore Banner thanks its sponsors. Become one.

“I think he has a good chance to win. I would like to see him win,” former President Donald Trump said of Larry Hogan. (Michael M. Santiago/Getty Images)

Does this mean that Hogan will now support Trump?

Definitely not.

Hogan himself has not said anything about Trump’s pledge of support. But Hogan campaign spokesman Mike Ricci issued a statement: “Governor Hogan has been clear he is not supporting Donald Trump just as he didn’t in 2016 and 2020.” The campaign declined to discuss Trump’s statements further.

View post on X

Hogan wrote in his father’s name in 2016 and late President Ronald Reagan’s name in 2020, rather than cast a vote for Trump. It didn’t matter much — Trump lost massively in Maryland in both of those elections.

Hogan also has regularly been at odds with Trump, criticizing the then-president for his handling of the coronavirus pandemic, among other issues. The former governor has no plans to attend the Republican National Committee’s convention this summer where Trump will accept the party’s nomination.

Hogan even earned scorn from Trump-world with a relatively neutral statement urging people to respect the judicial system ahead of the guilty verdict in Trump’s hush-money trial in New York.

The Baltimore Banner thanks its sponsors. Become one.

Stiff-arming Trump has been part of Hogan’s political persona for years, and there’s no sign that will change now.

This fall, Maryland voters will make a choice between Democrat Angela Alsobrooks and Republican Larry Hogan for the U.S. Senate. (The Baltimore Banner)

Who benefits more: Larry Hogan or Angela Alsobrooks?

Maryland has more than 4 million registered voters, and it’s hard to predict what they’re thinking about their options absent any polling data.

But it appears likely that Hogan may now win over some Trump-supporting Republicans who have been skeptical of him; meanwhile, he may lose Democrats who have previously supported him. Hogan himself has acknowledged he needs to line up support from across the political spectrum to win in Maryland, where only 24% of registered voters are Republicans.

“It puts Hogan in an awkward position,” said J. Miles Coleman of the University of Virginia’s Center for Politics. “Yes, there’s 40-ish percent of the Republican electorate that this could help him with. But this is a state that Biden carried by 2-to-1. He’s really going to need those crossover voters.”

The University of Virginia’s Center for Politics, like other election prognosticators, rates the Maryland Senate race as a likely win for Democrats. Still, both parties are watching the race closely, as Hogan is a more formidable candidate than the party has put forward in the past. And the result could determine which party holds control of the Senate.

The Baltimore Banner thanks its sponsors. Become one.

Coleman pointed to another time when a Trump endorsement hurt a Republican candidate in a blue district: Republican U.S. Rep. Erik Paulsen of Minnesota strategically distanced himself from Trump for years but got an unsolicited endorsement anyway a few weeks before election day in 2018. Paulsen went on to lose the election.

The Alsobrooks campaign and Democratic organizations are certainly hoping for a situation like that to play out in Maryland. They quickly dashed off statements and fundraising appeals linking Hogan and Trump together.

“Donald Trump wants Larry Hogan because Trump knows Hogan would be the deciding vote to put Republicans in charge of the U.S. Senate,” read one missive from the Maryland Democratic Party. “It could not be more clear what is at stake.”

Then on Friday, the Maryland Democratic Party announced they put up two billboards in Baltimore announcing in all capital letters: “Trump endorsed Hogan” with pictures of the two men. “Hogan would turn control of the Senate over to MAGA Republicans,” the billboards read.

Voters will have their say in less than 150 days.