ANNAPOLIS, Md. — Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan and WUSA9's Bruce Johnson took to Annapolis to drink, eat and share in some deep conversations about surviving cancer, the presidency and what the future holds.
As Johnson also put it, it was two old guys just kicking it talking about a real serious problem that could have killed them both.
"You know, I've really been looking forward to talking to you because we have so much in common," Hogan said.
The pair could have meet at Hogan's office, but McGarvey’s Saloon and Oyster Bar looked to be the more exciting option.
Hogan, the son of a U.S. Congressman, was built for this beginning at a young age.
He worked on Republican campaigns and referendums. As the appointments secretary under another Republican governor, Hogan handed out thousands of state government jobs. That’s a lot of political capital.
His re-election as a Republican in this heavily Democratic state made national news.
"State of Maryland, Republican, two consecutive terms, this hasn’t happened since when?" Johnson asked.
"[In] 1954 is the only other time it's happened in the entire 242-year history of the state," Hogan said.
"How do you explain it?" Johnson asked.
"Well, it's hard to explain because this was a really tough year, a very blue year in a very heavily Democratic state with a blue wave, people very angry at President [Donald] Trump, really turned off to the Republican Party. I think they saw me differently. You know, I worked really hard for four years to try to work as a non-partisan, bipartisan guy," Hogan said.
Hogan ran an incredible campaign. There we no scripts. These were real people.
"So, the average Republican Governor candidate in the county got 10 percent of the black vote. I got one-third of the black vote running against the national leader of the NAACP who could have been the first black governor of Maryland," Hogan said.
"Which dispels the myth that black people don't vote for white candidates," Johnson said. "Black people have always voted for white candidates."
"They usually don't vote for Republican candidates, and so it was hard. It took courage. They had to say, 'I'm doing something that my friends will probably be mad about it, but I believe in this guy,'" Hogan said.
Hogan is no conservative and that could be a problem should he seek higher office outside of Maryland.
Johnson said, "say you decided to run for president?"
"Look, I am not thinking about that. I am focused on Maryland, but our system is such that most liberal Democrats usually wins the Democratic nomination and the most conservative Republican usually wins the Republican nomination, and a lot of people in the middle go, 'These are the choices we got,'" Hogan said.
A lot of people would like to see him seek higher office, including the presidency. It’s not likely to happen as long as Trump is in the White House.
Hogan has separated himself from the president on a number of fronts, but the president has called him a couple of times.
"One time, when we had the flooding in Ellicott City, he reached out, which was very nice and appropriate, and the federal government provided us with a lot of assistance, and he called me a second time when we had the shooting at the Capital reporters," Hogan said.
Tax cut, trade -- Hogan likes some of Trump’s policies, but his close associates said he doesn't like Trump.
"I don't think he’s going to sit down and ask me for advice, but I think the thing is, he is his worst enemy sometimes. The things he said, and the way he said them and tweeting and all that, I mean, you can argue about his policies whether it is good or bad, but a lot of it is just the way he does it," Hogan said.
Hogan said he wants the Mueller probe to run its course without interference from the White House. He said there is something wrong there he said. He's just not sure what it is.
"I read the paper. I see the stuff on TV, but I'm not there. I don't see the evidence. I want to be fair. There are definite problems. It's very concerning, but I don’t know all the facts," Hogan said.
Hogan thinks the Mueller investigation ought to continue.
"I don't think it should go. I don’t think it should be bias, and let's go get the president, but I think no man is above the law, and they should do a fair investigation to try and get to the bottom of it," Hogan said.
So, the governor waits, listens before plotting his next move. It's not likely he gets to go back to being just a Maryland businessman; any more than he can go back to the person he was before he was struck by non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma.
"You know, the cancer going through that, as you know, it changes you," Hogan said to Johnson. "I met so many incredible people that were going through much tougher battle than me. I had a tough battle. I had very advanced cancer and I fought for a very long time."
"But on a personal level it just made me, it was a life-threatening situation, and it made me realize the important things in life," Hogan said. "It made me realize that life is short, and you got to make the most of every single day you got."
"And I was always sort of a driven person, and it's like I try to enjoy every day and I try to make the most of everyday that I'm here," Hogan said. "You never know how many days you have left and so you better make the most of it."