Larry Hogan won’t close the door on third-party presidential bid in 2024

(ANNAPOLIS, Md.) — Former Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan declined on Tuesday to close the door on a third-party presidential bid in 2024 after he said Sunday that he would not seek the Republican nomination.

Hogan clarified in an exclusive interview with ABC News that an independent presidential campaign is not something he’s “actively” mulling, but he would not definitively say he would not wage one depending on who the Democratic and Republican nominees are.

“I have ruled out seeking the Republican nomination. And I haven’t ruled that out [running as an independent]. But it’s not something I’m really working toward or thinking about,” Hogan said, adding that “the question keeps popping up more and more.”

A popular Republican governor in a blue state, Hogan was term-limited out of office earlier this year and had been considering a campaign as an anti-Donald Trump candidate in the 2024 Republican primary.

However, he said over the weekend that he would not contribute to a crowded nominating field in which the former president could emerge as the winner with just a plurality of support, as Trump did in 2016 again Sens. Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio and then-Ohio Gov. John Kasich.

“To once again be a successful governing party, we must move on from Donald Trump. There are several competent Republican leaders who have the potential to step up and lead. But the stakes are too high for me to risk being part of another multicar pileup that could potentially help Mr. Trump recapture the nomination,” Hogan said in a statement on Sunday.

Even without him in the race, though, Hogan conceded on Tuesday that any conservative other than Trump — who has criticized Hogan as a RINO, or Republican in name only — or Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, the only other potential candidate polling in double digits, faces an uphill climb in clinching the GOP nomination.

The potential crowd is still anticipated to include multiple notable lawmakers, with former South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley already running alongside Trump, and there’s no significant consolidation in sight.

“We got to find a candidate that can do that. And I don’t know who that is at this point,” Hogan said of the path for a candidate other than Trump and DeSantis to be successful. “But there can only be one.”

“Trump has to stumble, which is hard. And he’s been diminishing. But still, he’s the 800-pound gorilla. And then if he doesn’t make it, it goes to DeSantis, and then DeSantis has to stumble,” Hogan said. “And then you have to consolidate everyone else and overcome that.”

Yet if Trump does win the GOP primary, Hogan said the centrist political group No Labels, of which he is an honorary co-chair, could cobble together a third-party ticket.

Hogan said the group has “raised about $50 million to get access in all 50 states as kind of an insurance policy” for an “in case of ’emergency break glass"” scenario, referencing a general election matchup between Trump and President Joe Biden, who has said he will run in 2024 as well.

“I mean, they’re not trying to start a third party. They’re not committed to doing that. But in case the country is burning down, you may have to have an alternative,” he said.

Hogan insisted such a ticket would be a last-case scenario but could be sparked by a general election matchup between Trump and Biden — two politicians with consistently tepid approval ratings nationally who are nonetheless still seen by many as the likeliest nominees for each of their parties.

“I think that would be the trigger. I think that’s what they’re talking about. I’m not sure we’re gonna get to that point. I don’t know that. Frankly, I’m hopeful that Donald Trump is not going to be the Republican nominee. And I’m going to work toward that goal. And I’m assuming Biden may be the nominee, but who knows? I mean, he’s 80 years old. And we got a long ways to go,” Hogan said.

As for his own future, Hogan appeared open — among other possibilities — to having his name on such a ticket should one be launched.

“I’m not sure if it’s feasible. And it’s also just not something I’m working toward,” he said. “But, I mean, look, if you got to an election when the nominees were Biden and Trump and 70% of America didn’t want that, you wouldn’t rule it out, right?”

Copyright © 2023, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.