Views expressed in opinion columns are the author's own.
Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan's State of the State speech was constructed to distance himself from President Trump. Hogan did not say Trump's name a single time in the address, instead referring to "Washington" when discussing the president's actions. This choice seemed to be strategic, as Hogan's goal is to be re-elected Maryland governor, and he needs support from Democrats to succeed.
From many angles, distancing himself from Trump seems to be a good move for Hogan. It allowed him to discuss topics within his speech that people wanted and needed to hear.
For instance, many observers were upset that the president left climate change out of his State of the Union speech. Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) echoed this sentiment in his own rebuttal to the State of the Union address, in which he asked, "How can a president of the United States give a State of the Union speech and not mention climate change?"
Hogan spoke about climate change and environmental progress at length, especially with regard to the Chesapeake Bay and his commitment to green energy.
Just bringing these important issues up strongly differentiates Hogan from Trump, whose approval rating sits under 40 percent. In theory, this distance should help him in his fight to hold onto his position as governor. Due to this, some commended Hogan for presenting himself as nonpartisan while narrating how far we have come together as a state.
Unfortunately for Hogan, not everyone has aligned themselves with this logic. People understand that Hogan wants to be re-elected as governor and are looking at his State of the State speech as if it were a speech made on the campaign trail. Because of this, Hogan's efforts to distance himself from the Trump administration are coming off as insincere to some.
Overall, Hogan's decision to direct the focus away from the Trump administration in his speech was the right move. The implied disapproval of the Trump administration's actions alone was impressive to many. However, if Hogan wants to be taken seriously by Marylanders who were unimpressed by his nonpartisan pandering, he must find a way to effectively exhibit genuine concern for issues in such a way that reflects his true interests as governor.
Sydney Wess is a junior art history and broadcast journalism major. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.