Cecil County Fundraiser for Hogan Carries on, Minus Guest of Honor; Locals Send Get Well Wishes
Cecil County hosted a party for Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan Thursday night to support his re-election campaign funds and when the guest of honor couldn’t make it to the event, the party went on—with a giant ‘get well’ card and support for Hogan in his battle against cancer.
Organizers of the event, the Cecil Business Leaders for Better Government political action committee (PAC), had hoped until just a few hours before the event that Hogan would be able to attend. But, on his first day back on the job after enduring a grueling round of intensive chemotherapy in a Baltimore hospital, the trek to Cecil was apparently too much to expect.
Mario Gangemi, vice-chair of the CBL group, told the audience that organizers of the event decided to go ahead with the fundraiser to “show him the love that Cecil County has for Governor Hogan.”
But despite disappointment at the governor’s absence, guests—who paid $100 per ticket, plus an extra $150 for a VIP meet-and-greet session—enjoyed a champagne toast and munched on roast beef and fried chicken at The Wellwood in Charlestown. The tent was full of enthusiasm for Hogan’s policies thus far in his first few months in office and support for a re-election bid in 2018.
Hogan’s successful election campaign last year relied primarily on public financing, under a state program that had not been used by a successful gubernatorial candidate in the past. As a result, he was limited in the amount of money he could spend on his campaign directly—although a last-minute blitz of television ads paid for by the Republican Governors’ Association helped to boost Hogan over his Democratic rival, former Lt. Gov. Anthony Brown, who spent more than twice as much as Hogan on his campaign.
With the Cecil County event as a kick-off to building up his political campaign funds for a potential re-election bid, Hogan is getting an early start on what could be a challenging contest in 2018. Already, several high-profile Democrats are being mentioned in political circles as being interested in challenging Hogan, including:
–US Rep. John Delaney, D-6, a multi-millionaire businessman who unseated former Rep. Roscoe Bartlett in a re-drawn district covering Western Maryland and parts of Montgomery County;
–US Labor Secretary Tom Perez, a former Montgomery County Council member and official in the Martin O’Malley administration in Annapolis;
–Rushern Baker, the Prince George’s County Executive, who is prevented by local term-limits from running for that office again;
–Kevin Kamenetz, the Baltimore County Executive, who is also barred from seeking another term in that office.
Filling in for Hogan at the local event as main speaker was the governor’s 2014 campaign manager, Steve Crim, who told the crowd that the governor “will never forget the support and love from Cecil County” in his last campaign. Although Hogan lost Cecil County in the GOP primary, he went on to win some 78 percent of county votes in the general election.
Speaking of the governor’s latest battle, Crim said that Hogan managed to spend four hours in his Annapolis office on official business in his first day back after in-patient chemotherapy to treat his non-Hodgin’s lymphoma. The governor was facing “this latest challenge” with the same determination and strength he had shown in his past efforts to “change Maryland,” he said.
Crim, who currently holds the position of Director of Public Affairs in the Hogan administration, said that the governor had received over 4,000 letters and cards since his cancer diagnosis. A new website www.hoganstrong.com is going live on Friday 7/3/15 to raise money for cancer research. The site will sell tee shirts and green “#HoganStrong” bracelets. Guests at the Charlestown event were given bracelets, and New Jersey Governor Chris Christie posted a video on YouTube on Thursday, wearing a Hogan Strong bracelet and offering his best wishes for a speedy recovery.
Christie, who personally campaigned tirelessly in Maryland for Hogan, was also chair of the Republican Governor’s Association that paid for crucial TV ads in the final stages of the campaign. Those ads “put us over the edge,” Crim said, and he praised Christie for believing in the Hogan campaign when it was still behind but closing the gap with Brown.
Another stand-in for the governor was David Craig, currently the state Planning Director and the former Harford County executive who has long been a frequent visitor to Cecil County events. Craig spoke to the guests at the pre-dinner “meet and greet” event, saying that “the best day in Cecil County was when the tolls finally went down.” Craig and Cecil County officials worked to change an O’Malley administration plan to do away with a discount sticker for local auto travel on the Hatem Bridge linking Cecil and Harford, eventually winning a $20 a year EZ Pass special plan for the bridge.
And effective this week, Hogan reduced Hatem tolls for multi-axle vehicles, such as trucks and boat trailers. But the $8 cash toll for cars remains the same, while the Bay Bridge cash toll was cut from $6 to $4.
During the event, Gangemi introduced local and state elected officials attending the gathering, including State Sens. Wayne Norman (R-35) and Steve Hershey (R-36; Dels. Kevin Hornberger (R-35A), Teresa Reilly and Andrew Cassily (R-35B); and Cecil County Council members Robert Hodge (R-5), Alan McCarthy (R-1), Joyce Bowlsbey (R-2) and Dan Schneckenburger (R-3). County Executive Tari Moore, a Republican, did not attend.
Guests at the fundraiser signed a giant get-well card for Gov. Hogan: SEE the CECIL TIMES video of the card and guests here:
Also, SEE the CECIL TIMES video of remarks by Mario Gangemi here: