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WYPR's Senior News Analyst opines on recent Maryland news.

Smith: Hogan, Bravery and the Lt. Governor

Elected leaders can be pretty brave facing severe illness or even death. Ronald Reagan wanted to know if his surgeon was a Republican after John Hinckley shot him.

Governor Hogan’s way of announcing his cancer diagnosis falls into the same pattern. The prognosis was far less dire than the one Reagan faced. But cancer is cancer.

The governor has non-Hodgkins lymphoma. The prognosis is encouraging, he said. But every case is different.

Just how much his illness will change relationships remains to be seen. Points of conflict, of course, precede this week’s dramatic news.

Hogan wants to get Maryland off what he calls the Democratic tendency to tax and spend. Balanced budgets and a real cut in state spending are his goals. The difference between the parties may come down to how much urgency there is to reach these goals.

Hogan wanted to erase the entire deficit in one year. Legislators thought various programs could not withstand that pace. They pushed back. Compromise of a sort prevailed.

The governor may be inclined to pull back on two mass transit projects: the Red Line in Baltimore, the Purple Line in the DC suburbs. Debate and discussion on these issues will continue with the same vigor on both sides. The governor’s cancer diagnosis will probably have little if any impact.

As for day to day governance questions Mr. Hogan’s earlier decision to recruit a solid, capable and passionate lieutenant governor partner is grounds for confidence.

Boyd Rutherford showed his merit early. He’s been a well-organized, business-like leader of Hogan’s anti-heroin initiative. His handling of the Board of Public Works in Hogan’s absence has been impressive as well.

The governor predicted no disruption going forward. His choice of a running mate pays off now.