Larry Hogan, the former Republican governor of Maryland, has ruled out a run for his party’s presidential nomination in 2024 – but not ruled out running as a third-party candidate in an attempt to stop Donald Trump’s return to the White House.
Hogan told ABC: “I haven’t ruled that out. But it’s not something I’m really working toward or thinking about” even though “the question keeps popping up more and more”.
Hogan flirted with a run for the Republican nomination as a moderate but pulled back last Sunday, saying: “To once again be a successful governing party, we must move on from Trump.
“There are several competent Republican leaders who have the potential to step up and lead. But the stakes are too high for me to risk being part of another multi-car pile-up that could potentially help Mr Trump recapture the nomination.”
Trump is running for the Republican nomination for a third time, regardless of legal jeopardy arising from the January 6 insurrection, his retention of classified records, his financial affairs including a hush money payment to a porn star and a defamation case arising from a writer’s allegation of rape which he denies.
Polling has shown the potential for opponents to Trump, including the former South Carolina governor Nikki Haley and most likely the Florida governor, Ron DeSantis, to divide the vote and give him the nomination without a majority, as happened in 2016.
Polling has also shown vanishingly small interest in Hogan among voters in a Republican party dominated by Trump and DeSantis.
Hogan told ABC: “Trump has to stumble, which is hard. And he’s been diminishing. But still, he’s the 800lb gorilla. And then if he doesn’t make it, it goes to DeSantis, and then DeSantis has to stumble. And then you have to consolidate everyone else and overcome that.”
He said No Labels, a centrist group of which he is an honorary co-chair, had “raised about $50m to get [ballot] access in all 50 states as kind of an insurance policy” for an “in case of emergency break glass” scenario.
“They’re not trying to start a third party,” he said. “They’re not committed to doing that. But in case the country is burning down, you may have to have an alternative.”
Hogan said a Biden-Trump match-up would be such a scenario.
“I think that would be the trigger. I think that’s what they’re talking about. I’m not sure we’re gonna get to that point … Frankly, I’m hopeful that Donald Trump is not going to be the Republican nominee. And I’m going to work toward that goal. And I’m assuming Joe Biden may be the nominee, but who knows? I mean, he’s 80 years old. And we got a long ways to go.”
Biden, who would be 86 a the end of a second term, has not confirmed a run for re-election. All signs, however, suggest he will soon take the plunge.
Hogan said he was “not sure if it’s feasible” he could be a No Labels candidate.
“And it’s also just not something I’m working toward. But, I mean, look, if you got to an election when the nominees were Biden and Trump and 70% of America didn’t want that, you wouldn’t rule it out, right?”
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