Policy priorities

Larry Hogan: Democrats will lose Jewish voters due to White House pressure on Israel 

The former Maryland governor criticized President Joe Biden’s shift on Israel in an interview with JI

Wade Vandervort/AFP

Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan speaks during the Republican Jewish Coalition Annual Leadership Meeting in Las Vegas, Nevada on November 18, 2022.

Former Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan told Jewish Insider on Sunday that he’s “very concerned” about backsliding support for Israel among Democrats, accusing the Biden administration and Democratic lawmakers of caving to “pressure from the far-left base of their party” at the expense of “an awful lot of Jewish support.”

Hogan sat down with JI on Sunday at the Jewish Community Center of Greater Baltimore’s annual block party, where he huddled with Jewish leaders to mark six months since the Oct. 7 Hamas terror attacks and spoke with locals about his Senate bid. In an interview during the event, Hogan said that one of his leading policy priorities in the Senate “is being a champion for Israel” amid waning support from the Democratic Party.

“I’m very concerned about it. When you have people like one of our senators here in Maryland, Chris Van Hollen, and Chuck Schumer taking positions that I never would have imagined,” Hogan told JI. “I’m concerned about the rise in antisemitism and I’m concerned about what were traditionally good allies and supporters turning their backs [on them] because of pressure from the far-left base of their party. It’s very frustrating, and I think it’s a mistake.”

The GOP Senate hopeful was referring to Van Hollen’s recent threats to condition aid to Israel amid continued criticism of Israel’s handling of the war in Gaza and Schumer’s call for new elections in Israel in a speech that grouped Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu together with Hamas as obstacles to peace. 

Hogan, a Republican who served two terms as governor of deep blue Maryland, argued that President Joe Biden’s escalating rhetoric on Israel could hurt him in November amid the tone shift that has been seen as an effort to shore up Arab-American support. 

“I think he’s definitely feeling the pressure. There’s stories about people in the White House screaming at each other and everywhere they go they have protesters yelling at them. They’re definitely reacting, which is what they usually do. They cave to pressure, they show weakness,” Hogan said. 

“But it’s not really about [Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin] Netanyahu or his actions. We’ve got to support our most important ally, and it’s a democracy that gets to decide who their leaders are and what they do and what actions they take,” he continued. “I think it’s going to hurt him drastically. I mean, he’s caving to the pressure from the Palestinian community because he was losing votes in Michigan, but he’s losing an awful lot of Jewish support now.”

Hogan is running for the seat of retiring Sen. Ben Cardin (D-MD). The vacancy, Hogan’s name recognition and high approval ratings in the state have made the race competitive, despite Maryland’s substantial Democratic edge. He’ll either face off in the general election against Rep. David Trone (D-MD) or Prince George’s County Executive Angela Alsobrooks.

“I don’t know what the numbers are in Michigan, but throughout the rest of the country, like Van Hollen, I don’t understand it at all. In Maryland we have a large Jewish population, he’s abandoned them,” Hogan said. “Trone is also walking back. He used to be a pretty good supporter, but now he’s calling for unilateral, immediate cease-fires and cutting off aid to Israel. So I’m gonna continue to stand firm, it’s where I’ve always been. I think it’s the right place to be, and I think the people we’re talking to today recognize that and appreciate that.”

Reached by JI, Van Hollen said in a statement that, “You can be a good friend and strong supporter of the people of Israel  — as I am — and not support giving a blank check to Netanyahu and his far-right, extremist coalition. It’s not what the American people want, and it’s not what Marylanders want.”

Since Hogan entered the Senate race, Democrats have accused the former two-term governor of being out of step with Maryland’s liberal electorate. Cardin said in comments published on Sunday that he did not believe Hogan would be able to win on the same ballot as former President Donald Trump, despite the former governor being an outspoken critic of the former president. 

“I don’t think it’s gonna make any difference at all because I think they recognize the fact that he will organize with the Republicans,” Cardin told CNN in February. “So there will be another voice for the Republicans and allow the extreme agenda.”

Asked about those comments, a Hogan campaign spokesperson said, “Governor Hogan looks forward to building on Senator Cardin’s legacy of supporting Israel in the Senate, where he will serve as a voice for all Marylanders.”

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