Listen to this article

At a recent fundraiser in Columbia, two supporters of Angela Alsobrooks, the Prince George’s County executive running for U.S. Senate, bristled at the observation that Alsobrooks was the candidate of the Democratic “establishment.”

The Alsobrooks campaign is not bashful about boasting of her 100+ endorsements from current and former officials across Maryland. That was underscored at a press conference in Baltimore Friday where she picked up the backing of yet another one of the state’s most important Democrats, Senate President Bill Ferguson.

Ferguson promised “to do whatever it takes to make sure that this incredible leader is going to be on the national stage.”

Ferguson, 40, who represents southwest Baltimore at the State House, was not just a new-found friend of Alsobrooks. He described a political relationship that was years in the making, long before he became the surprise leader of the Maryland Senate in 2020.

He described a meeting he had with her when she was still the state’s attorney in Prince George’s. The get-to-know-you session that Ferguson expected to last a half hour turned into a 90-minute discussion of significant policy issues. Following that, Alsobrooks invited him to an event where he got to see her interact in a very personal way with hundreds of volunteers, not a typical event for a county’s top prosecutor.

These incidents suggest that Alsobrooks has been building alliances for years with elected officials across Maryland. They might be helpful in fighting crime and making progress in what may be the highest-income majority Black jurisdiction in the country, but also needs significant state resources to overcome big pockets of low-income residents.

Alsobrooks, 52, a lifelong Prince Georgian, also played up her connection to Baltimore, where she arrived 30 years ago to attend the University of Maryland law school. Prince George’s and Baltimore have obvious needs in common.

Competitive primary

With the retirement of Sen. Ben Cardin creating an open seat next year, Alsobrooks is running in a highly competitive Democratic primary against U.S. Rep. David Trone, Montgomery County Councilmember Will Jawando and several Democrats who have not held public office before. The winner of the May 14 Democratic primary will likely be the next U.S. senator. Maryland has not elected a Republican to the Senate in 40 years, and no well-known Republican is running for the seat, other than perennial candidate Robin Ficker.

Trone, the multi-millionaire founder of Total Wine and More, is mostly self-funding the race, as he has done in four runs for the U.S. House. He has already put in nearly $10 million of his own money and plans to spend more.

Despite substantial fundraising, Alsobrooks could never match that kind of money, but has two key advantages over Trone. First she embodies key constituencies in a Democratic primary – older Black women and college-educated professional women. Secondly, she has the early backing of much of the top Democratic leadership in the state.

These include U.S. Sen. Chris Van Hollen, U.S. Rep. Steny Hoyer, the former House majority leader and Maryland’s longest serving member of Congress; U.S. Reps. Kweisi Mfume and Glenn Ivey, whom she succeeded as state’s attorney. Also endorsing her are state Comptroller Brooke Lierman, state Treasurer Dereck Davis; House of Delegates Speaker Adrienne Jones and 43 other delegates; Ferguson and 16 other senators, the executives of Baltimore and Anne Arundel counties, three state’s attorneys, mayors and a bunch of former electeds, with ex-Attorney General Brian Frosh at the top of the list.

Besides several TV ads, mailers and social media ads, Trone has endorsements too, including 47 members of the House of Representative – but none from his Maryland colleagues. His state and local endorsements are sparse as well, though he has slightly more than Alsobrooks from Montgomery County, which he represents. Trone’s endorsers include four state senators, 10 delegates, the Frederick County executive, and various other local officials, mostly from areas in the 6th Congressional District.

Will Jawando lists no endorsements.

Except for some municipal officials, none of the Maryland officials, except for the congressmen and some municipal officials, will be on the ballot and campaigning for themselves next year. They so have volunteer and donor networks they can influence, much as Del. Terri Hill of Howard County and her sister Donna Hill Staton, a former judge for whom Alsobrooks clerked, hosted a fundraiser for Alsobrooks in Columbia Oct. 4.