In February 2021, weeks after Jan. 6, Larry Hogan, who was then the Republican governor of Maryland and a frequent critic of Donald Trump, told Katie Couric that a battle for the soul of their party was underway — and that Trump’s influence was really, finally, diminishing.

He realizes that declaration was a little premature.

“I guess I’m not as smart as I thought I was,” Hogan told me this morning.

Hogan knows that his side of the party — what he calls “the Republican wing of the Republican Party” — lost that battle. He knows that many of his fellow Never Trumpers have lost re-election, decided to retire or changed their tune. And he is running for Senate anyway, gearing up for a fierce battle that will test whether there is any path forward for anti-Trump Republicans seeking federal office in 2024.

“I do feel a little bit like I’m running toward the burning building,” Hogan said. But, he added, “you can either give up and walk away or you can continue to try to fight to get things back to the place you want it to be.”

Hogan, 67, is a prized recruit who is expected to cruise to victory in tomorrow’s Maryland Senate primary. His surprise entrance into the race earlier this year turned his state into a legitimate Senate battleground — a cherry on the top of a Senate map that already favors Republicans.

As he campaigned this morning at the Double T Diner in Annapolis, Hogan made an obvious effort to keep his distance from the national party. He spoke warmly with Democrats in the diner, who had no idea he’d be stopping by, before heading to the restaurant’s back section, which was decorated with black-and-yellow campaign signs that said, “Country over party.”

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