Governor challenges opponent as race heats up
On Wednesday, Governor Larry Hogan made stops on the shore and his biggest challenger, Democrat Ben Jealous, wasn't far behind.
47 ABC's Ryan Eldredge interviewed Jealous who said over and over that the Governor was scared of him and what he brings to the table. While the Governor talked in generalities, only referring to Jealous as "this or that guy".
Hogan is ready to serve Maryland for another four years. But to do that, he'll have to defeat three challengers, including Jealous.
When asked about Jealous, Hogan said, "You know what's interesting? He's never even really been involved here in Maryland before. I've never even met the guy. I don't know anything about him. I look forward to meeting him. I know his views are pretty far out there but I don't know anything about him as a person."
From a purely political standpoint, there's no love lost between these opponents. And the differences, as pointed out by the Governor himself, are many.
"Well we are really looking forward to the race. Sometimes people say there's never really much of a choice and they can't decide between the candidates. In this particular instance, you could not be further apart. There's gonna be a really clear choice for a change," Hogan said.
"There's no question that this guy wants to go in a completely different direction. And to my understanding most people want to make progress and keep moving forward. And he wants to take us back to where we were four years ago. Most people don't want to go there."
Governor Hogan believes his time in office has been a success. He hangs his hat on job creation, an area he has excelled in according to independent reports, which say that the Governor can "justifiably claim that 111,500 nonfarm jobs were created in the state."
Still, he knows that his administration could do more to help in places like the lower shore, specifically Somerset County.
"Some areas have not seen the benefits of that as much as other areas have, so we pushed the More Jobs For Marylanders Act, that specifically tried to provide incentives for people to create jobs for people in places like Somerset County, lower shore, western Maryland, Baltimore City where they are having difficulty still. I've spent a lot of time there. We are just bringing high speed internet for the first time all the way to Crisfield, where I'll be here coming up shortly for Tawes. But we are trying to put more jobs down there, trying to make it easier for businesses to locate down there. We're putting more money for education, we're trying to fix the problems at ECI," Hogan said.
The Eastern Correctional Institution is now front and center for this campaign. And with rally's, protests, meetings and more taking place, it's likely to stay there as we move into November.
"It's a problem we are trying to address but just to let you know how the problem evolves, you think back just before I became governor. The inmates, the gangs were actually running our state prison system. We then indicted I think 138 different people. We changed the rules on hiring so you can't hire people with a criminal background or people who can't pass a lie detector test or drug test. That's made it really difficult because we are only hiring people that aren't involved in crime and it's harder to get people interested."
"So we've tried to make it more attractive. I passed a bill this session that would exempt and give a tax break for all the correctional officers, the same thing we did for police and fire and veterans which should help attract more people who want to apply. We've now just came up for proposals for bonuses, to try and attract those folks. And we've gone on massive recruiting efforts to try and get people involved."
"But again, we have a slight staffing problem that we are trying to correct, after all the indictments and the problems. But my opponent wants to fire 4000 correctional officers so that doesn't seem like that would help the understaffing problems."
In regards to lowering the population in the state prisons, Hogan said, "Last year I, we, passed the Justice Reinvestment Act. The first time in decades that we've ever relooked at the system. We've reduced our prison population at a faster rate than any other state in America. But this guy wants to let one-third of all the prisoners out – that's not gonna happen."
Hogan knows that the attacks won't end with the situation at E.C.I. and that's why he's focused on education, clean energy and healthcare. And it's also why he's determined to keep Maryland above the fray and out of the storm that is Washington, D.C.
"I happen to be in the same party with the President. I also don't have any problem saying I disagree with him. If the President of the United States is doing something that I support, that I believe in, that I think is correct, I'm going to say so. And give him my full support. But I'm not afraid to say that I don't agree with this policy and I don't think it's right," Hogan said.
"I'm all for tougher border security. I don't believe, as my opponent does, that we should have open borders and let anyone into the country. And I don't want to stop prosecuting MS-13 gang members for committing terrible crimes. I'd like to focus on the criminals, rather than tearing kids away from their families and I thought it was a mistake. I was the first republican governor but it was a symbolic gesture. And the next day, the President changed his policy. I'd like to think that we had some input in that," Hogan said.