WASHINGTON - With election day fast approaching, Maryland voters will soon decide who they want to lead their state for the next four years.
Incumbent Republican Governor Larry Hogan and Democratic challenger Ben Jealous will face off against each other in the race.
Governor Hogan visited FOX 5 to discuss a range of topics including his thoughts on the passing of Senator John McCain, his personal battle with cancer and the upcoming election.
** NOTE: FOX 5 invited Democratic nominee Ben Jealous to appear -- he will do so next week. **
"Well the great news is I'm one-hundred percent cancer free and in complete remission and I'm feeling strong," he said. He thanked everyone for the well wishes and thanked his medical team.
TOP PRIORITY FOR MARYLAND
"I've got the pedal to the metal," Hogan said about his approach leading up to the election. "We're not coasting on anything." He listed his accomplishments as improving the state's economy, job numbers and economic performance. He said funding education had been a priority and said the Chesapeake Bay is the cleanest its been in 33 years. "We're making a lot of progress but the second term - we still a lot left to be done and we're going to continue to focus on those same priorities."
"We want to push for more accountable in our school systems because we're spending a lot of state taxpayer money by sending it down to the local jurisdictions," he said. Hogan said some of the state's school systems are cheating some of the students.
The governor also pointed out the problems within the Prince George's County School system. "It's basically adults have been failing the kids," he added. "It's not fair to the kids who graduated that didn't really have the qualifications to do so."
"Currently, as we sit here today, we have 860 transportation projects under construction totaling $8 billion -- and that's all across the state and every jurisdiction," Hogan said. A new proposal would add additional lanes to both Interstate 270 and Interstate 495. Widening the Baltimore-Washington Parkway is a project he hopes to carry into a possible next term. Hogan also said good progress is being made on the Purple Line project.
Hogan called the passing of Senator John McCain, "terribly sad." He said he met the late Senator over 40 years ago and became an admirer of his. Governor Hogan said he will be attending his funeral in Annapolis.
"He's a guy who I really admired because he reached across the aisle much like I've tried to do. I tried to emulate that in him," he said. "He wasn't a real partisan guy and he stood up and did whatever he thought was right even when it was tough sometimes. He had a lot of courage. He was a great guy."
Hogan said, like McCain, he tries to govern in a bipartisan way.
Following his death, Hogan ordered flags lowered to half-staff to honor McCain.
Hogan called the Jacksonville shooting a tragedy and said Maryland has some of the toughest gun laws in the country. He wouldn't address the details of the case but did say new "red flag legislation" that was passed during the last session, and that will go into place on October 1, will help make sure people with mental health issues do not have access to weapons in the state.
"We pushed, in this last session, for tougher sentencing for people that commit a crime with a gun and for repeat violent offenders," Hogan said. "Because we already have the toughest gun laws. People are still getting guns illegally." "When they commit a crime," he said, "we'll make sure they do some time."