Change Maryland founder Larry Hogan fired up a sold-out crowd of several hundred at a fundraiser last Thursday, "Your family trip to the beach just got a lot more expensive. Today, the second round of O'Malley toll increases took effect and the gas tax increase kicked in at the same time. While you are sitting in traffic at the Bay Bridge for the 4th of July weekend you can thank Governor O'Malley and the monopoly in Annapolis for the 140% increase in tolls, and for giving us the most expensive gas in the region."
Change Maryland, a non-partisan organization, is the largest and fastest growing grassroots movement in the state made up of more than 46,000 people from every jurisdiction in the state. Nearly half of them are Democrats and Independents. The group's Facebook page includes 10 times more people than Democrat gubernatorial candidate Anthony Brown, and 25 times more than Republican candidate David Craig. In fact, the Change Maryland page has more people engaged on-line than the Maryland Democrat and Republican Parties, and all the potential Democrat and Republican candidates for governor, combined. As of last week, Larry Hogan's organization actually surpassed that of his frequent sparring partner, Martin O'Malley, the former Baltimore Mayor, two term governor and candidate for President.
Hogan explained that the impact of the 30% increase in state spending and the 40 consecutive O'Malley-Brown tax increases was that the state has gone from 13 Fortune 500 companies down to 3, we lost 6,500 small businesses, the unemployment rate has nearly doubled and 31,000 taxpayers have fled the state. Hogan then fired up the standing room only crowd with: "Governor O'Malley says he's 'Moving Maryland Forward'. But if that's moving Maryland forward, I say maybe next year, we'll just have to take Maryland back!"
The bipartisan crowd at the Change Maryland event included many top Republican leaders, as well as a former Democratic Governor, a former Speaker of the House and a number of prominent Democrats from across the state. "This isn't just another fight between Democrats and Republicans. It's more important than that. This is a fight for Maryland's future, and it's a fight worth fighting", Hogan said.
In addition to being the founder and Chairman of Change Maryland, Hogan is a successful businessman, and a former state Cabinet Secretary. In 2010 he was the only serious candidate willing to challenge O'Malley, until former Governor Bob Ehrlich entered the race. Ehrlich called him "One of the only Republicans in Maryland who could win." Maryland's most powerful Democrat, Steny Hoyer called Hogan the toughest opponent he has ever faced in his entire career.