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Hogan’s popularity intact as he exits

Now that Gov. Larry Hogan is former Gov. Larry Hogan, the political analysts will swoop in and start dissecting his eight years at the helm of state government.

They will be looking for and expounding on what they perceive to be his successes and failures and whether his performance in office is in sync with his overwhelming popularity among citizens of Maryland.

His critics —  on both sides of the aisle  — are already saying he could have done more, although what that might have been would depend on whose agenda is being used as a measuring stick. But sure, he could have been more progressive or more conservative, depending on one’s point of view.

But had he been, he would not be leaving office as one of the most popular governors in the country with a 77 percent approval rating, according to the most recent polls. And that’s in a state dominated by the opposition party. Even more interesting is that his approval rating is higher with Democrats than it is with his own party, the Republicans.

The secret to Hogan’s success is not what he did — and his take-charge handling of the covid-19 pandemic consistently ranked among the best — but is what he said and how he said it.

His everyman persona, a public bearing that suggested he honestly enjoyed the job and his avoidance of the pugnacious railing so common among highly partisan politicians allowed him to come across as a non-threatening, thoughtful guy.

In other words, he did take positions that aggravated one side of the aisle or the other, but he didn’t do it with his chin stuck out and trying to yell opponents into submission.

Hogan was smart enough to know what he could and couldn’t do without splintering this state into belligerent political camps fixated on getting one over on the competition.

That’s an attribute this country could use a great deal more of, and it’s why Hogan exits the governor’s office as one of the most popular in the history of the state. That in itself is a huge accomplishment … no matter what the analysts say.