A 1974 Redux?
This year isn't the first time Maryland Republicans eschewed a competitive race in the name of party purity
Most of you probably have not given much thought to the 1974 Maryland Gubernatorial Election. If anything, you know that Congressman Larry Hogan, Sr. ran for Governor and was defeated in the Republican Primary.
The why, of course, is part of why I’m feeling the winds of 1974 across the state:
Hogan Sr. was criticized at the time by Nixon’s White House counsel and House Republicans for using his support for impeachment to boost his bid for the governorship; Hogan suspected it would hurt his campaign. He lost in the 1974 Republican primary to Louise Gore.
Does the 1974 campaign sound anything like what just happened a few weeks ago? An unconventional candidate gets 53% of the vote and defeats the front-running candidate and anticipated primary winner because the primary electorate didn’t think the front-runner candidate was sufficiently loyal to a President under criminal suspicion.
That of course is a drastic oversimplification of things. Louise Gore was a much more accomplished politician and legislator than Dan Cox was. And Gore was better at building a long-lasting organization than Cox. Gore’s involvement in the Maryland Federation of Republican Women made her able to seize a moment. Cox is just an opportunist looking to satisfy his low self-esteem by surrounding himself with people who give him slavishly, cult-like devotion.
Louise Gore was a person with a record of note, not a self-important egomaniacal charlatan like Dan Cox.
But one thing that’s important to note is that the result, much like this year will, met post-primary expectations:
Gov. Marvin Mandel a Democrat, and Senator Charles McC. Mathias Jr., a Republican, won reelection tonight to second terms.
The 54‐year old Governor's victory over his Republican challenger, Louise Gore, 49, had been widely predicted…
…Miss Gore, a wealthy woman who served some years in the State Senate, was probably best known until this fall as the person who, in 1967, introduced former President Nixon to Spiro Agnew at a party. Her victory over Representative Lawrence J. Hogan in the primary; was a surprise even to the Republican party, whose spokesmen said privately that it was the result of bad management; in the Hogan campaign.
Miss Gore's was a somewhat; unfocused campaign, and confrontations between the two: candidates demonstrated, in the opinion of most observers, her; unfamiliarity and inability to deal with complex topics, although she attempted to make state tax policy an issue. Mr. Mandel, generally regarded as the favorite, ran like an underdog.
While Mandel’s familiarity with state government as an incumbent is something that Cox’s opponent Wes Moore sorely lacks, the similarities between Cox and Gore seem obvious.
Gore’s loss was the second straight for Republicans. A Republican would not win again until 2002.
Two interesting footnotes to this include what happened after 1978. Louise Gore ran for Governor again that year and finished a very distant third in the Republican primary. She never served in public office again.
As for Larry Hogan, Sr.? After having his political obituary written after 1974, the elder Hogan was elected as the last Republican to serve as Prince George’s County Executive in 1978 by defeating incumbent Win Kelly.