The Republican Party after 2020 faced a “time for choosing,” to borrow a phrase from President Reagan. Were we going to be a party that can’t win national elections, or were we willing to do the hard work of building a durable coalition to shape our nation’s destiny?
Last week Republicans showed they have the capacity to build that coalition and win national elections again. We swept the three statewide offices and made dramatic gains down ballot in my neighboring Virginia, and we nearly captured the New Jersey governorship.
I was proud to support all three of the Republican candidates and campaign for Gov.-elect Glenn Youngkin and Attorney General-elect Jason Miyares because I saw firsthand that they were making inroads by focusing on the issues that matter to voters. With Americans worried about crime, inflation, and the consequences of distance learning, these candidates put forward common-sense solutions to reduce taxes, secure communities and expand school choice. Instead of divisive rhetoric, they offered a hopeful and unifying message for the future.
Their success should put to rest the myth that the only way to fire up the base is by alienating swing voters or swearing blind allegiance to a former president. Mr. Youngkin outperformed Donald Trump even in many rural Republican areas. Something similar happened in Maryland when I sought election in 2014 and re-election four years later: Our ticket made dramatic gains in Democratic parts of the state while achieving historic numbers in Republican areas.
As former Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour likes to say, successful politics is addition and multiplication, not subtraction and division. If we recognize that, 2022 could be a historic wave for Republicans. There’s no doubt the opportunity is real. President Biden wasn’t elected to move the country to the far left. He was elected because voters hoped he would lower the political temperature and seek common ground.
That should have been obvious. Though the country rejected Mr. Trump a year ago, Republicans gained seats in the U.S. House and state legislatures. Mr. Biden misread his narrow victory as a mandate for far-left policies. Instead of quickly passing the bipartisan infrastructructure bill and finding other common ground with Republicans, he let the far left hold his party hostage in an effort to jam through their partisan and extreme agenda. Instead of addressing the issues voters are concerned about, the Democratic majority is narrowly focused on spending as much of our money as quickly as possible.
America is on the wrong track, but the 2022 election can and should be a change in direction. If our election wins in 2014 and 2018 in Maryland, one of America’s bluest states, weren’t proof enough, Virginia and New Jersey demonstrated again that common-sense conservatives who focus on issues and solutions can compete and win anywhere. The country is hungry for leadership. The question is whether the Republican Party is willing and able to provide it. After last week, there is more reason to hope that the answer is yes.
Mr. Hogan, a Republican, is governor of Maryland.