With Democrats outnumbering Republicans by a 2-to-1 margin in Maryland, a blue state sweep was expected in Tuesday's midterms. Instead, Democrats got an unpleasant surprise.
In what ABC News
termed a "major upset," Republican Larry Hogan beat Democratic Lt. Gov. Anthony G. Brown in the race to replace outgoing Democratic Gov. Martin O'Malley, and became only the second Republican governor of Maryland in the past 45 years.
"Hogan caught a wave, and it was a big wave," Maryland Senate President Thomas V. Miller, a Democrat, told The Washington Post
. "It was from California to Maryland and all in-between. He got the right message and played it over and over again."
However, analysts feel that the wave Hogan caught was a backwash of Maryland voters fed up with being taxed to death.
Janet Novack, writer for Forbes
, wrote, "It's beyond debate that Democratic states have a higher taste for the public services, and with it a higher tolerance for the taxes needed to finance them, than do Republican ones."
She noted that "sometimes, you've just got to raise taxes; in 2008 and 2009, when their budgets were decimated by the recession, 33 states passed some sort of tax increase."
But, she said, "as the economy recovered, Maryland Gov. Martin O'Malley and the Legislature just kept the tax increases coming, including a higher state income tax rate for couples earning more than $150,000 and singles earning more than $100,000 passed in 2012 and a gas tax increase in 2013."
Hogan, Forbes notes, won the race by 51.5 percent to 46.8 percent while spending only about half of what Brown spent, largely by promising to cut back on taxes but not make any radical changes in Maryland social issue legislation.
For example, in a Hogan ad, Maryland resident Amie Shank said she is voting for Hogan because: "He will not change any current law when it comes to important social issues. It's very hard to live in a state like Maryland when the taxes are what they are."
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And while Joe Cluster, director of the Maryland Republican Party, told The Baltimore Sun
,"The Republican Party is stronger than ever. We are no longer the party that can be ignored in Annapolis. The state got very purple tonight," the Sun noted that Democrats still hold sway in the state Legislature.
Democrats hold a 33-14 advantage over Republicans in the Senate and a 91-50 edge in the House of Delegates, although Republicans did pick up two Senate seats and seven House seats, the Maryland Reporter noted
This leaves Democrats with less than the two-thirds majority needed to override any veto from Hogan, "a historic high number for Republicans in the Maryland House," the Reporter said.
"I think the people voted against a tax-and-spend administration," Cluster told the Maryland Reporter. "They took it out on the members of the House and Senate."
"Hogan's win was deemed one of the biggest upsets. It sent shock waves through Maryland's Democratic Party establishment, which had convinced itself that the last election of a Republican governor in the state, in 2002, was a fluke that wouldn't be repeated," The Washington Post reported, adding, "In every jurisdiction, frustration with taxes and anxiety about the economy followed voters to the polls."
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