ANNAPOLIS, Md. - Republican Maryland Governor Larry Hogan sat down with FOX 5 as the Democratic-controlled General Assembly went back into session on Wednesday.
The popular governor faces re-election this year with Democrats looking to knock him out of office and it is one of the reasons why Hogan said 2018 might be the most important year of his term.
"I think it may be,” he said. “We have made a lot of progress over the past three years, but we are probably putting our most aggressive legislative package in this year. We have gotten a lot of things done. It's an election year which is going to complicate things because some people just want to play politics.”
The governor has been a big critic of mismanagement by public officials, such as problems facing Prince George’s County Public Schools or corruption charges against some members in the General Assembly. Hogan believes term limits would be the answer to prevent these problems as lawmakers would not hold onto their positions in Annapolis decade after decade.
"Our founding fathers never envisioned these professional politicians spending their whole careers in office and that is what we have now,” said Hogan. “They are very blatantly partisan and fighting all the time. I'm a businessman and never held elective office. I'm just here to get things done. I don't really care about R's and D's.”
The governor said the "Me Too" movement has been a remarkable women’s rights movement that shows no sign of slowing down in 2018. It is why when a bill to end parental rights of rapists over their victims reaches his desk, he intends to sign it.
"I think this has been an important movement and it's amazing that it has taken this long,” Hogan said. “It's also amazing how fast all of this happened. People became aware and it was kind of a tidal wave of people saying ‘Me Too’ and these things happened.”
Regarding transportation, the governor said he will continue to press his plan for permanent financing for Metro without raising taxes.
Despite his critics, Hogan said he is also dead serious about widening Interstate 270, the Beltway and parts of the Baltimore-Washington Parkway in Maryland. He said he already has 27 builders interested in bidding on the job.
"The naysayers, I heard some of them say, ‘Well you can’t widen 270! You can’t widen the Beltway!' Well, because they have done nothing for 50 years, it doesn't mean that we can’t do it. People who are sitting in traffic want us to do something.”
Is Gov. Hogan beatable? He is a Republican in a Democratic state. Hogan has largely kept President Donald Trump at arm’s length and while Democrats may try to tie him to Trump, the governor said his record as “Independent Republican” is reflected in his strong poll numbers.
"We are pleased with where we are,” he said. “Seventy-two percent job approval. I believe the president is about 22 percent in Maryland so we have about a 50-point spread. People don't see me the way they see President Trump.”
The General Assembly will be in session for the next 90 days. Even though this is an election year and even though he is a Republican, Hogan said he is hopeful that this session can produce bipartisan results that both sides can take credit for.