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ROCKVILLE —Gov. Larry Hogan (R), who vowed to win the heavily Democratic county in November’s general election, spoke to business leaders at the Maryland Hispanic Business Conference.
Hogan’s speech was like many others he has given in the past year or so.
Hogan, who received a leadership award from the conference, touted his record, saying jobs, economic growth and businesses are coming back to the state, all thanks to his policies, constituting of cuts to taxes and fees and a change of attitude in Annapolis.
“As a result of all these efforts, we had the best year for business in Maryland in more than a decade. We had the best year for job growth in more than 15 years,” Hogan said.
Tuesday’s Maryland Hispanic Business Conference was mix of business and politics, as state leaders took turns to make their pitch to both Maryland’s business leaders and Hispanic community.
Hogan quickly pivoted his speech about his successes as governor to a warning about his main opponent, Ben Jealous, who he said will dismantle all his accomplishments to turn the state’s economy around.
“I don’t know much about this other fellow running for governor, but I do know he wants to take Maryland in a completely different direction,” Hogan said. “And that’s really what this election in November is all about.”
Jealous, for his part, said the governor’s rhetoric is about fear, and touted his success as a venture capitalist and former CEO and President of the NAACP.
“His track record is clear: whether it’s echoing [U.S. Attorney General] Jeff Sessions, or giving [U.S. Secretary of Education] Betsy DeVos a tour of the state while parroting her policies and sending millions of dollars from our general fund, not into our underfunded public schools, but into private schools in the form of vouchers,” Jealous said.
For Jealous and Hogan, Tuesday’s conference was another opportunity to campaign in the state’s largest battleground – Montgomery County.
Previously, Hogan vowed he would win Montgomery County in November, saying the reliably blue jurisdiction will turn red for him, something that Jealous has contested.
“Hogan will not win Montgomery County. Hogan talks about a lot of wild, sort of, wild notions; that might be the wildest,” Jealous said.
Montgomery County Executive Ike Leggett (D), has yet to issue his endorsement for the gubernatorial race. In the primary, Leggett backed Prince George’s County Executive Rushern Baker III, a personal friend of Leggett’s, for governor, but has yet to give his endorsement to Jealous – citing concerns over his tax policy.
Leggett said he hopes to eventually endorse Jealous, saying he wants to meet with him face-to-face to iron out their differences, something that they have yet to do.
While national Democrats and progressive leaders like former Vice President Joe Biden, former Attorney General Eric Holder and Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) have endorsed Jealous, Leggett remains a holdout.
For other politicians at the conference, it was also an opportunity to campaign.
Sen. Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.), spoke to business policies the federal government is responsible for, namely, funding for the Small Business Administration, to which the Trump administration has proposed cuts.
David Trone, co-founder of Total Wine and More, a Democratic candidate for Maryland’s Sixth Congressional District, spent his time during his talk criticizing President Donald J. Trump and his opponent, Amie Hoeber.
Trone, who recently announced he has been diagnosed with cancer, called out President Trump for his family-separation policy at the border.
“It’s not complicated, it’s just damn wrong,” Trone said.