GAITHERSBURG — Mayor Jud Ashman has endorsed Governor Larry Hogan in his bid for reelection this fall.
While Gaithersburg, like many other Maryland municipalities, has nonpartisan elections, Ashman is a registered Democrat.
Formerly a Republican, Ashman switched his party affiliation in the mid-2000s.
“I was disenchanted by the policies of the George W. Bush administration,” Ashman said. “I started voting Democratic, even before I changed my registration. I believe the last Republican I voted for was [former Representative] Connie Morella. Whether I’ve been registered as a Republican or a Democrat, I’ve always been a centrist.”
Ashman said he is appalled by the policies of President Donald J. Trump.
“The national Republican Party and the Trump administration are absolutely abhorrent,” Ashman said. “I have nothing good to say about Trump, Mitch McConnell or Paul Ryan.”
Ashman said his decision to endorse Hogan was based on the governor’s efforts to promote economic growth and his moderate stance on social issues.
“Governor Hogan has done a lot to tackle what I think is the most important issue facing our state, which is making Maryland a better place to do business,” said Ashman, who is himself a small-business owner. “He has embraced policies that are close to my heart, such as being pro-choice, pro-marriage equality, and supporting sensible gun laws. He has made an effort to distance himself from Trump and the national GOP and groups like the National Rifle Association.”
Ashman said he felt that electing moderate Republicans at the state level could help counteract the national party’s policies.
“I completely understand why some people might feel, given the train wreck of the Trump administration, that they couldn’t stomach voting for any Republican at any level,” Ashman said. “But I think electing people like Hogan, who have rejected these polices, shows that there’s public support for Republicans who declare their independence.”
In early 2016, Ashman and the City Council clashed with the Hogan administration after the latter scaled back construction funding for the I-270 Interchange, a project city officials feel is essential to the economic growth of upper Montgomery County. Ashman said that this episode did not play a role in his decision.
“That ended well, and we got the full interchange,” Ashman said.
Ashman also said he thought he and the city would be able to work with Democratic nominee Ben Jealous if he were to defeat Hogan in November.
“I don’t know Ben Jealous very well, though I have met him,” Ashman said. “I have sat down and talked with his running mate, Susan Turnbull, whom I like very much. I have nothing bad to say about Ben Jealous. I’m supporting Governor Hogan because he has a proven record of working on issues that are important to me.”