Mark Uncapher, is serving as President of the Montgomery County Republican Club. Mark is a long-time party activist who previously served as the Chairman of the Montgomery County Republican Central Committee.
Maryland’s “Middle Temperament” Governor, Larry Hogan
A key to understanding Governor Larry Hogan’s eight years in office and his political success is appreciating his recognition of Maryland as a “state of a middle temperament.”
The exact words of Larry Hogan’s 2015 inaugural address bear repeating:
Today is not the beginning of an era of divided government.
Today is the beginning of a new spirit of bipartisan cooperation in Annapolis.
There is so much that unites us: a love of our state, a commitment to fairness, and a desire to be economically strong and successful.
And to those who would divide us or drive us to the extremes of either political party, I remind you that Maryland has been called “a state of middle temperament.” Our politics need that middle temperament as well. The politics that have divided our nation need not divide our state.[i]
The phrase about Maryland’s “middle temperament” dates to 1634. In observing the region that was to become the state, Father Andrew White wrote that it enjoyed “a middle temperament between the two [New England and Virginia], and enjoys the advantages, and escapes the evils, of each.”[ii] White was an English Jesuit missionary who was involved in the founding of the Maryland colony, and whose activity earned him the title of “Apostle of Maryland.” Annually, Maryland Day commemorates the arrival of the Ark & Dove, which transported him.[iii]
Historian Robert Brugger translated that observation into the unifying theme in his masterful book, “Maryland: A Middle Temperament, 1634-1980.” To describe three and a half centuries of Maryland history, he sees the state “as a middle way, between extremes, where the human spirit thrives” and argues that the approach works surprisingly well, given Maryland’s great geographical, social, and economic diversity.[iv]
Commentators as diverse as the Washington Post editorial page and the late Democratic Senate President Mike Miller have attributed Governor Larry Hogan’s success to his embrace of Maryland’s “middle temperament.”
The Post’s 2018 endorsement of his reelection recalled the Governor’s inaugural address promise to avoid partisanship and recalled his evocation of Maryland’s “middle temperament.” The Post endorsement editorial concluded that: “To his immense credit, Mr. Hogan, a Republican in a state where Democrats enjoy a 2 to 1 advantage, has largely fulfilled that pledge, rejecting what he called ‘the extremes of either political party’ and taking a pragmatic, centrist approach to leadership that has been a tonic in a venomous era.[v]
Even in the middle of that 2018 reelection campaign, then-Democratic Senate President Miller drew the same conclusion. After the paper noted that Miller “sounded more enthusiastic about Hogan than his Democratic opponent, Ben Jealous,” the Post quoted his observation that the Governor “understands that Maryland is a state of the middle temperament.”[vi]
To be sure, the balance that the Governor’s strikes can frustrate political partisans. Partisans of both parties are uneasy over the “half loaf” that the ‘give and take’ of political compromise produces. Yet in the middle of the 2022 Gubernatorial campaign, even the Republican nominee and sometime Hogan critic Dan Cox tried to portray himself as “a candidate with a ‘middle-temperament approach,’ willing to work across the aisle to improve the lives of families and children.”[vii]
Given the passions that policy differences can generate and the rough and tumble of politics, adhering to the approach can be trying and requires considerable self-discipline.
Governor Hogan’s deep appreciation of Maryland’s ‘middle temperament’ and his ability to follow its principles helps explain the success of his eight years in office.
[ii] Father Andrew White, S.J., “An Account of the Colony of the Lord Baron of Baltamore (sic), in Maryland, near Virginia: in which the character, quality and state of the Country, and its numerous advantages and sources of wealth are set forth,” (1633), in Clayton Colman Hall (ed.), Narratives of Early Maryland, 1633-1684 (New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1910), 6-7.
[iv] Maryland: A Middle Temperament, 1634-1980. By ROBERT J. BRUGGER. (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press in association with the Maryland Historical Society, 1988