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GOP Senate candidate pushes Republicans to rebuild Baltimore bridge

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BALTIMORE, MD – Former two-term Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan says he’s urging fellow Republicans on Capitol Hill to support federal funding to rebuild the collapsed Francis Scott Key Bridge.

“I’m going to push them as hard as I can. I’ve already called a couple of Republican Senate leaders and started working them,” Hogan, who’s running for a Democratic-controlled open Senate seat in his home state, emphasized in a Fox News Digital interview on Thursday.

Six construction workers were presumed killed when the bridge collapsed on Tuesday moments after a large container ship slammed into a pillar. 

President Biden quickly pledged that the federal government would pay the “entire cost” to rebuild the near half-century old structure. Much of the funding will come from the Federal Highway Administration’s emergency fund, which needs to be replenished on an annual basis.

POPULAR FORMER REPUBLICAN GOVERNOR LEADS DEMOCRATIC RIVALS IN BLUE STATE SENATE SHOWDOWN

Recovery efforts resumed Wednesday for the construction workers who are presumed dead after the cargo ship hit a pillar of the bridge, causing the structure to collapse. (AP/Matt Rourke)

Hogan, who served eight years as Maryland governor, has been out of office for 15 months.

“You go through dealing with crises and emergencies for eight years and there’s a reflex – I have to instantly take action,” Hogan said of his tenure as governor. He added that “it’s a little strange” not to be part of the crisis management team.

Hogan noted that “I did immediately reach out to Gov. Wes Moore [his Democratic successor] and let him know that when it comes to a crisis like this, we’re all one Team Maryland and anything that I could do to possibly help him.”

HEAD HERE FOR THE LATEST FOX NEWS UPDATES ON THE BALTIMORE BRIDGE COLLAPSE

Hogan also noted that during his term as chair of the National Governors Association, he made infrastructure his signature issue.

And he was a major supporter of President Biden’s $1.2 trillion infrastructure law, and helped shape the two-and-a-half old measure.

Hogan spotlighted that the infrastructure law “has a lot of funding for this work right now. We’ve already got some federal funding that will really come in handy.”

The former governor was interviewed moments after spending an hour greeting Baltimore Orioles fans, including a large contingent of first responders, at a former firehouse turned pub blocks from Camden Yards, just ahead of the major league baseball team’s home opener.

Former Md. Gov. Larry Hogan

Republican Senate candidate and former Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan greets Baltimore Orioles fans, including a large contingent of first responders, at a former firehouse turned pub blocks from Camden Yards, just ahead of the major league baseball team’s home opener. On March 28, 2024, in Baltimore, Maryland (Fox News – Paul Steinhauser)

Hogan won election and re-election in 2014 and 2018 as governor in a state where Democrats outnumber Republicans by a roughly 2-to-1 margin.

A successful business leader before entering politics, he seriously mulled a run for the 2024 Republican presidential nomination and made numerous trips in 2022 to New Hampshire, the state that holds the first primary in the GOP nominating calendar.

But in March of last year, Hogan announced he wouldn’t seek his party’s presidential nomination.

MARYLAND SHOCKER: FORMER GOVERNOR MAKES SURPRISE CAMPAIGN ANNOUNCEMENT

During his last year as governor, Republican leaders in the nation’s capital and in Maryland heavily courted Hogan to run for the Senate in the 2022 midterm elections against Democratic Sen. Chris Van Hollen.

But Hogan declined, saying in a news conference in February of that year that “as I have repeatedly said, I don’t aspire to be a United States senator.”

Asked about his change of heart when it comes to running for the Senate, Hogan told Fox News “I was governor at the time and I loved being governor and I had a lot more work to still do.”

“I don’t need a title and I don’t need a job, but I’m more concerned than ever about the direction of the country and I just became more convinced that I could make a difference there,” he emphasized. “A lot of people are leaving the House and the Senate and I thought it was time for somebody to go in the other direction and maybe bring some sanity back to the divisiveness and dysfunction.” 

Hogan has long been a vocal GOP critic of former President Donald Trump, who is now the Republican Party’s 2024 presumptive presidential nominee.

Trump is expected to clinch the GOP presidential nomination on March 12

Republican presidential candidate former President Donald Trump gestures at a campaign rally Saturday, March 9, 2024, in Rome, Ga. (AP Photo/Mike Stewart)

That means as Hogan runs for the Senate, he’ll have Trump atop the ballot come November.

“It’s a tough hurdle to overcome because he lost my state by 33 points,” he emphasized. “It’s not going to be helpful to me, but I think we’re going to be able to overcome that challenge.”

SIX KEY SENATE SEATS REPUBLICANS AIM TO FLIP IN NOVEMBER 

A recent Washington Post/University of Maryland poll indicates Hogan remains very popular among voters in his home state, and holds double-digit leads over both of his potential Democratic rivals – Rep. David Trone and Prince George’s County Executive Angela Alsobrooks.

“I would not put a lot of stock in polls right now. We’ve got a lot to do. We have not elected a Republican senator from Maryland since 1980, when Ronald Reagan was elected president,” Hogan pointed out. “It’s a tough state – the bluest state in America. But I think if we work hard, we have the ability to get people to vote their hearts and vote for the person they think can do the job and not just vote straight party line.”

Democrats currently control the U.S. Senate with a 51-49 majority, but Republicans are looking at a favorable Senate map this year, with Democrats defending 23 of the 34 seats up for grabs. 

Three of those seats are in red states that Trump carried in 2020 — Ohio, Montana and West Virginia, where Democrat Sen. Joe Manchin is not running for re-election. And five more are in key general election battlegrounds. Now, Democrats also have to worry about holding the open Senate seat in blue Maryland.

Former Md. Gov. Larry Hogan greets Orioles fans

Greeting Baltimore Orioles fans, including a large contingent of first responders, at a former firehouse turned pub blocks from Camden Yards, just ahead of the major league baseball team’s home opener. (Fox News – Paul Steinhauser)

Since he jumped into the race earlier this year, Democrats have attacked Hogan over the combustible issue of abortion, criticizing him for not supporting federal legislation to codify the now-overturned landmark Roe v. Wade ruling which legalized abortion.

“In November, Marylanders will reject Larry Hogan because they know that a vote for Larry Hogan is a vote for a Republican Senate majority to pass a national abortion ban,” the Maryland Democratic Party charged.

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But Hogan told Fox News that “I absolutely do not” support a federal abortion ban being pushed by some Republicans.

“All the Democrats started attacking me the first day just because I was Republican and saying I would,” Hogan charged.

Hogan has said he personally opposes abortion. And as governor, he vetoed legislation to end a restriction that only physicians provide abortions. His veto was overridden by the Democratic-controlled legislature.

But Hogan said that “when I ran for governor I made a promise that I was going to do nothing to take away the rights of women in our state and I kept that commitment for eight years.”

Abortion, which is protected in Maryland, will be on the ballot in the state in November. Democratic state lawmakers voted last year to put a state constitutional amendment before voters. 

“Certainly it’s going to be an issue in the campaign that we’ll be addressing. But I’m not one of the ones Democratic cookie-cutter talking points are going to be able to impact,” Hogan argued.

Get the latest updates from the 2024 campaign trail, exclusive interviews and more at our Fox News Digital election hub.

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