BALTIMORE (WJZ)– As Maryland Democrats team up with running mates in the campaign for governor, a new poll shows incumbent Republican Larry Hogan is holding onto his popularity.

According to the new Goucher Poll, 61 percent of voters approve of the job Gov. Hogan is doing.

The 2018 gubernatorial race looks like a challenge for Democrats to unseat the popular governor and for Gov. Hogan to outrun Democrat Party loyalty.

“The thing that I care about is the people of Maryland seem to be happy with the job our administration is doing and the direction our state is heading,” he said. “I’m pleased to see the numbers but I don’t pay much attention to the ups and downs of the politics of it.”

Forty-seven percent of those surveyed say they would vote for Hogan. Forty-three percent say they would vote for someone else.

Goucher Hughes Politics Center Director Mileah Kromer sees a challenge in breaking that 50-percent mark.

“To do that, however, his keys are to distance himself from President Trump and continue to govern as a moderate,” Kromer said.

The polls shows 46 percent consider Hogan a moderate, and 47 percent think he’s keeping a proper distance from Trump, but Democrat rivals have criticized him for not taking a stronger stand against Trump policies.

“I can’t spend everyday just doing nothing but protesting in Washington is what I think they’d like to see,” Gov. Hogan said. “That’s not what they elected me to do. I’m just here focused on my job I have to do here in Maryland.”

“Although Larry Hogan has been able to maintain approval ratings and although he’s besting his democratic challenger right now, a Republican governor in a blue state is always a precarious position,” Kromer added.

The last Republican governor to be elected to a second term in Maryland was Theodore McKeldin in 1954.

Voters polled said the economy, jobs and education are their most important issues for choosing a governor.

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