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Alsobrooks touts growing coalition days into Senate race

Jack Hogan//May 15, 2023

Montgomery County Executive Marc Elrich, second from right, Prince George’s County Executive Angela Alsobrooks, center, and Baltimore Mayor Bernard C. ‘Jack’ Young, far left, shown at a January 2020 hearing in Annapolis. (AP File Photo)

Alsobrooks touts growing coalition days into Senate race

By Jack Hogan

//May 15, 2023

Less than one week into her campaign for U.S. Senate, Prince George’s County Executive Angela Alsobrooks has a coalition of Democratic officials backing her to succeed longtime Sen. Ben Cardin.

Alsobrooks’s most recent endorsement came from Baltimore County Executive Johnny Olszewski Jr., a fellow Democrat who was seen as a potential candidate until Monday, when he held a news conference to announce his support for Alsobrooks.

Olszewski said Alsobrooks “represents a new generation of leadership” and is someone who will build on Cardin’s “incredible legacy of delivering for the Baltimore region — and all of Maryland.”

Alsobrooks said of Olszewski, “we worked closely together to keep our community safe during the height of COVID-19 and beyond, and I look forward to the collaboration we will continue in the future.”

According to her campaign, Alsobrooks has received more than 40 endorsements since announcing her campaign on Tuesday of last week, including from U.S. Rep. Kweisi Mfume, state Treasurer Dereck Davis, Baltimore State’s Attorney Ivan Bates and a list of state lawmakers, most of whom represent Prince George’s County.

Todd Eberly, a professor of political science and public policy at St. Mary’s College of Maryland, said the endorsements were a smart strategic move and have created a narrative of the Maryland Democratic party uniting behind Alsobrooks.

“That’s a pretty well-oiled machine,” he said of Alsobrooks’s campaign.

The early race to replace Cardin, Eberly said, appears to be a battle between the personal wealth and spending power of U.S. Rep. David Trone — who released a television advertisement last week that his campaign said was a seven-figure buy — versus the Maryland Democratic establishment that Alsobrooks represents.

Asked about endorsements, Trone’s campaign manager, Dan Morrocco, said in a statement, “We’ve been thrilled with the support Congressman Trone has received from every corner of Maryland, and we’re excited to talk more about that in the coming weeks.”

Montgomery County Councilman Will Jawando and activist Jerome Segal have also announced their candidacies for the Democratic nomination.

U.S. Rep. Jamie Raskin is seen as a potential Democratic candidate, too, although he hadn’t made an announcement as of Monday.

Eberly said he expected the early weeks of the race to be a “free for all,” with candidates like Olszewski, who may have been on the fence, deciding to throw their hat in the ring for what may be the only open statewide seat for several years.

Candidates who’ve entered the Senate race early may be looking to ward off potential competitors by getting quick endorsements to show that people are mobilizing around them, said Roger Hartley, dean of the University of Baltimore College of Public Affairs.

“The candidates who are able to separate themselves from the other candidates are gonna be those who either already have some statewide name recognition or who can get it really quickly,” Hartley said.

Hartley said that garnering support from county executives can help candidates boost their statewide recognition.

While candidates like Trone and Alsobrooks may not be known statewide, they are entrenched in Maryland political circles and have connections with those who can boost their profile, like Olszewski or Howard County Executive Calvin Ball, he said.

Some believed Olszewski had planned a press conference Monday to announce his own Senate run.

But former Maryland Gov. Parris Glendening said Olszewski’s announcement didn’t surprise him at all.

“County executives are an interesting lot,” said Glendening, a Democrat who was the Prince George’s County executive before running for governor in 1994.

“They are often the prime candidates when a position comes open, and so at one level, they’re very competitive. At another level, they all know one another and have shared experiences. So, once the competition sort of settles down a bit, they tend to gel behind one another,” he said.

Anne Arundel County Executive Steuart Pittman has also endorsed Alsobrooks.

Alsobrooks will benefit a great deal from the support of her home county, Glendening said.

“It’s all about turnout,” Glendening said. “When (Prince George’s County) moves toward you, as it almost always does for its hometown favorites, you almost immediately, as a candidate, jump way out front.”

Support from Prince George’s County was a significant reason for Gov. Wes Moore’s 2022 gubernatorial primary victory over former Comptroller Peter Franchot and former U.S. Secretary of Labor Tom Perez.

Glendening said Prince George’s County has long been a vital voting bloc for Democrats running for statewide office. The overwhelming support he received from the county in the 1994 primary and general elections propelled him to his first term in the governor’s mansion.

Prince George’s County is home to the highest concentration of registered Democrats in Maryland and, according to the U.S. Census, nearly 65% of the county’s population is Black or African American.

If elected, Alsobrooks would be just the third Black woman ever elected to the U.S. Senate. She would also be the only woman in Maryland’s 10-member federal delegation.

Glendening said he sees Alsobrooks as the early frontrunner in the Democratic field.

But, he said, the full field may take some time to filter out, especially if any Democrats from Baltimore County, Baltimore city or northern Howard County see an opening with Olszewski opting out.

Maryland hasn’t elected a Republican to the U.S. Senate in more than 40 years. Despite reports of national Republican leaders trying to recruit him to run for Cardin’s seat, former Gov. Larry Hogan has said he has no interest in being a senator.

Repeat candidate and disbarred lawyer Robin Ficker, who received 2.8% of the gubernatorial primary vote in 2022, has entered the Republican field. From 1979 to 1983, Ficker represented Montgomery County in the Maryland House of Delegates.



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