Maryland primary to set up unexpectedly tight Senate race

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Maryland’s Democratic Senate primary is heating up as voters prepare to choose between two major contenders: Prince George’s County Executive Angela Alsobrooks and Rep. David Trone. This race has sparked debates over money in politics, electability, and the Democrats’ commitment to diversity and Senate control.

Angela Alsobrooks is a Black woman who oversees Prince George’s County, one of Maryland’s largest counties near Washington, D.C. She has gathered support from local politicians and presents herself as a grassroots candidate. On the other hand, David Trone is a wealthy businessman who founded Total Wine & More and is in his third term as a congressman. He has spent over $50 million of his own money on the campaign, gaining endorsements from his colleagues in Congress, and suggesting that Alsobrooks lacks experience for federal politics.

Recent polls indicate a close race between the two candidates. According to a poll on May 10, Trone had 44.3% support, while Alsobrooks had 38.7%. The winner of this primary is expected to face former Republican Governor Larry Hogan in the general election. Hogan’s candidacy has turned the race from a predictable Democratic win into a competitive battle, with the control of the Senate at stake.

David Trone has used his substantial financial resources to dominate the advertising space, spending nine times more than Alsobrooks. He has also received endorsements from key figures like House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries. However, Trone has faced criticism recently due to a verbal slip where he used a racial slur instead of the word “bugaboo,” leading to negative media coverage. Additionally, a supporter’s ad implied that Alsobrooks needed “training wheels” for the Senate, which Alsobrooks and her supporters found offensive.

Alsobrooks argues that Trone’s negative attacks are a sign that he is worried about losing the race. She has emphasized her record and vision for Maryland, accusing Trone of trying to buy the election. Alsobrooks has been gaining support from influential local politicians like Rep. Jamie Raskin and has strong ties within the Maryland Democratic Party.

Alsobrooks’ candidacy is historically significant, as there are currently no Black women in the U.S. Senate. Her supporters believe it is crucial to have diverse representation in such powerful positions. Dominik Whitehead, Vice President of Campaigns at the NAACP, stated that it is “shameful” there are no Black women serving in the Senate in 2024.

The race is very competitive, and experts believe either candidate could win. Hogan, who has a history of winning over Democratic voters, looms large over the race. His potential candidacy has made electability against him a crucial factor for Democratic voters.

At a rally in Silver Spring, Maryland, Trone led a “beat Hogan!” chant and highlighted his experience and record as reasons he could win the general election. However, it has been challenging for him to set himself apart from Alsobrooks in terms of policy.

Voters are focused on the importance of party control in the Senate. For many, ensuring a Democratic majority in the Senate is a priority. Some voters, like Elizabeth Miller from Potomac, Maryland, are hesitant to support Republican candidates and voted for Trone in the primary. First-time voter Mackenzie Kinol emphasized the significance of Senate control, indicating she would vote for a Democrat but was still deciding between Trone and Alsobrooks.

Meanwhile, Republicans are excited about the prospect of Hogan running in the general election. Sen. Steve Daines, head of the National Republican Senatorial Committee, praised Hogan’s track record and popularity in a blue state, suggesting he would be a strong candidate. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell also sees Maryland as a potential Republican pickup, along with other states like Ohio, Montana, and Pennsylvania.

However, some experts are skeptical about the Republicans’ chances in Maryland. Nathaniel Rakich, a senior elections analyst at 538, noted that it is rare for a Senate candidate to outperform their party’s presidential candidate by a large margin. Given that Maryland voted for Biden by 33 percentage points in 2020, it would be unprecedented for a Republican Senate candidate to win by such a significant margin.

In summary, the Democratic Senate primary in Maryland is highly competitive, with Angela Alsobrooks and David Trone each presenting strong cases. The race has significant implications for the control of the Senate and has drawn considerable attention from both Democrats and Republicans. As voters head to the polls, the outcome remains uncertain, with both candidates having a viable path to victory.

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