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Maryland Democrats pick Angela Alsobrooks to take on Hogan for open U.S. Senate seat

Maryland Democratic candidate for U.S. Senate and Prince George's County Executive Angela Alsobrooks reacts after a voter tells her he voted for her outside at the Marilyn Praisner Community Recreation Center on May 14 in Burtonsville, Md.
Andrew Harnik
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Maryland Democratic candidate for U.S. Senate and Prince George's County Executive Angela Alsobrooks reacts after a voter tells her he voted for her outside at the Marilyn Praisner Community Recreation Center on May 14 in Burtonsville, Md.

Maryland Democrats chose Prince George's County Executive Angela Alsobrooks to be the party's nominee for U.S. Senate in Tuesday's primary election, beating a handful of Democrats including Rep. David Trone. Her win sets up a crucial race for the party in its attempts to maintain control of the chamber this fall.

Alsobrooks will face former Gov. Larry Hogan, who easily won the Republican nomination and gives the party its best chance to win a Senate seat in Maryland for the first time since 1980.

As Trone conceded the Democratic contest Tuesday night, he urged his supporters to move forward by backing Alsobrooks and reelecting President Biden.

"We cannot let the party of Trump take our Senate," he said. "We can't let them take our country."

Incumbent Sen. Ben Cardin, 80, announced he would not seek a fourth term in office last year. That set off a scramble within the Democratic Party to replace him, and Alsobrooks and Trone quickly rose to the top of the list. It was expected the winner of their clash would coast to the seat in the fall election.

But on Feb. 9, the last day of candidate filing for the primary, Hogan announced he would seek the Republican nomination after consulting with Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell and former President George W. Bush. The 67-year-old popular two-term governor, portrayed as a moderate in large part because of his criticisms of former President Donald Trump, had previously shown no interest in the race, instead making noise about a potential presidential run.

Alsobrooks is in her second term as county executive of Prince George's County in the Washington, D.C., suburbs. She previously served as state's attorney in the county, which is the second largest by population in the state. If elected, the 52-year-old Alsobrooks would be only the third Black woman ever elected to the Senate, and the first from Maryland. She had the backing of most of the state's Democratic establishment, including Gov. Wes Moore.

Trone poured a significant amount of his wealth into his Senate hopes but failed to win. He is in his third term in Congress representing Maryland's 6th District, which comprises the westernmost part of the state. The 68-year-old is the co-founder of the national liquor store chain Total Wine and More and he mostly self-funded his campaign, spending more than $60 million.

Hogan easily won the Republican primary with two-thirds of the vote. The only other candidate with double-digit support was Robin Ficker, a perennial candidate and disbarred attorney best known for his days as a heckling fan at Washington Bullets (now Wizards) games at the Capital Center in Landover.

"Like you, I am completely fed up with politics-as-usual in Washington where the politicians — on both sides — seem to be more interested in attacking each other than in actually getting anything done for the people they represent," Hogan told supporters on primary night in Annapolis.

"I don't come from the performative arts school of politics. I come from the get-to-work and get things done school, and I'll work with anyone who wants to do the people's business. Most Marylanders and most Americans prefer straight talk to empty rhetoric and they think it's time for less talk and more action," he continued.

Polls had shown a tight race, with Hogan benefitting from his statewide name recognition and popularity as governor. But the most recent polls done this month — from Public Policy Polling and Emerson College — show Hogan trailing Alsobrooks. The PPP poll had her winning 46% to 37% with 17% undecided, and the Emerson College poll had Alsobrooks up 48% to 38% with 14% undecided.

Charles Mathias was the last Republican to win a U.S. Senate race in Maryland, winning his third and final term in 1980. The closest the party has come to winning this century was in 2006, when Cardin won his first term by defeating then-Lt. Gov. and future Republican National Committee Chair Michael Steele 54% to 44%.

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[Copyright 2024 WYPR - 88.1 FM Baltimore]