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Election 2024 Government & Politics

Senate race developments: Olszewski backs Alsobrooks, Anne Arundel businessman eyes Democratic primary

Baltimore County Executive Johnny Olszewski (D) offers his endorsement Monday to Prince George’s County Executive Angela Alsobrooks (D) in the 2024 U.S. Senate election. Photo by William F. Zorzi.

Baltimore County Executive John A. “Johnny O” Olszewski Jr. (D) will not run to succeed retiring U.S. Sen. Ben Cardin (D) next year, squelching speculation that he would be a rare candidate from the Baltimore area in the statewide race.

Instead, Olszewski on Monday threw his support behind Prince George’s County Executive Angela D. Alsobrooks (D), who declared last week she was running for Cardin’s seat, after the state senior senator announced he would not seek re-election in 2024.

After more than a half-century in public office, Cardin won’t seek reelection in 2024

Olszewski’s endorsement was one of several new developments in the fast-moving race to replace Cardin, who has held elective office since 1967. In another, an Anne Arundel County businessman, Juan Dominguez, told Maryland Matters on Monday that he is contemplating whether to enter the Democratic primary.

Olszewski and Alsobrooks appeared together Monday morning in the parking lot of the Randallstown Community Center in western Baltimore County. On Sunday evening, Olszewski’s campaign issued an advisory that he would be making a statement about the Senate race the following morning, but it gave no indication that Alsobrooks would be there.

“It was easy to decide not to run, once I knew that Angela Alsobrooks was all in, someone who shares, literally, my same experiences in this role,” Olszewski said during the endorsement announcement.

Both Olszewski, 40, and Alsobrooks, 52, were first elected county executives in 2018.

“Being here today is a way for me … to begin to understand some of the issues in Baltimore County and in the Baltimore region,” Alsobrooks said.

But she was quick to point out that she is no stranger to the area. She noted she graduated from the University of Maryland School of Law, and served as a law clerk in the Howard County Circuit Court and for a Baltimore City circuit judge, before working for the Prince George’s County State’s Attorney’s Office, which she led from 2011 to 2018.

“So again, I am so grateful to County Executive Olszewski for his support today, and I look forward to continuing to work in partnership with him to represent all Marylanders,” she said.

Alsobrooks, U.S. Rep. David Trone (D-6th) and Montgomery County Councilmember Will Jawando are the leading candidates for the Democratic nomination so far. Jerome Segal, a former college lecturer and longtime progressive activist who has run for several offices over the last five years, has also said he will seek the Democratic nomination.

Democrat Steven Henry Seuferer, Republican Ray Bly, and Moshe Landman, of the Green Party, had previously filed for candidacy with the State Board of Elections.

Alsobrooks has quickly racked up more than three dozen endorsements from current and former elected officials, and also notched significant backing from the national Democratic fundraising powerhouse Emily’s List, while Trone’s ads are already blanketing the state’s airwaves and digital platforms thanks to a self-financed seven-figure ad buy.

“The top tier of that [Senate race] right now would be Trone and Alsobrooks,” said Todd Eberly, a political science professor at St. Mary’s College of Maryland. “Trone’s money alone makes him a formidable challenger. Alsobrooks, though, based on the endorsements that were announced right out the door, Alsobrooks is going to have the institution of the Maryland Democratic Party behind her.”

Olszewski’s decision to forego the Senate race leaves U.S. Rep. Jamie Raskin (D-8th), who is still pondering a run and expects to announce his decision sometime in June, as the next big shoe to drop.

While the best-known candidates continue their early stumping for Cardin’s seat, Dominguez, a telecom executive and military veteran, is creating a Senate exploratory committee ahead of a possible 2024 Senate bid, which will enable him to raise money, pay a small team of consultants and travel around the state. Dominguez, 56, said he plans to make a final decision on the race in the late summer.

“I feel like someone like myself brings a unique perspective to the various challenges that Maryland and our country face,” he said.

The son of Cuban émigrés who came to the U.S. as teenagers, Dominguez has had a long corporate career. He is a vice president at Breezeline, a national cable TV and telecommunications company, and previously was a regional executive at Comcast. A 1989 graduate of the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, he served in the Army for five years, leading a combat platoon during the Gulf War.

Telecom executive Juan Dominguez is pondering a run for U.S. Senate in 2024. Courtesy photo.

If Dominguez’s campaign website is any guide, it’s hard to tell that he plans to run as a Democrat — and a check of the website, which monitors money in politics, shows he has made at least four campaign contributions to Republicans, including U.S. Sens. Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) and Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) and Maryland Del. Rachel Muñoz (R-Anne Arundel). The issues his website spotlights are “China,” “Big Tech,” “Crypto” and “Israel.”

But in an interview, the tyro candidate said he would also emphasize “the nation’s unconscionable $30 trillion debt” while on the campaign trail, along with food insecurity and the need to raise teacher pay. Dominguez said he would bring a “business approach” and “a bipartisan approach” to governing.

“When I talk to people on the inside, people in the political mainstream, they say, ‘How can you think about running? You’ve never been in the government?'” Dominguez said. “I’d say that’s my strong suit.”

Dominguez has, in fact, held elective office, as a member of the Bogota, N.J., borough council in the 1990’s — and he produced a well-regarded 2005 documentary on a mayoral election in the community called “Anytown, USA.” He also served a commissioner on the Bergen County Utilities Authority in New Jersey.

As a Comcast executive, Dominguez moved several times, working and living in the Miami, Philadelphia and Atlanta areas before settling with his family, five years ago, in Severna Park.

He and his wife Cheyenne launched a podcast during the COVID pandemic, “Down With the Dominguezes,” with 40 episodes now in the can. And he, his wife and his two children are a sponsor family to three students at the U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis — “so I’m behind enemy lines,” the West Point graduate joked.

Dominguez plans to contrast his own career path with those of his opponents. His message: “Why should career politicians and millionaires and billionaires be the only ones who can run for Congress and the U.S. Senate?”

Already, he believes, the message is resonating.

“I think there are a few things that determine the viability of this effort — one is the excitement of the people I talk to about the campaign,” he said. “I have no reason to be in this race other than to try to make people’s lives better. I’m not looking for a lifelong political career. I’m not beholden to anyone’s political agenda.”

Dominguez said he has begun fundraising and “we fully expect to raise the necessary money to help us build a groundswell of support.” He conceded that on a scale of zero to 100, Trone and Alsobrooks are currently at 100 while he’s at zero, but as the campaign progresses, “I can only go up and they can only go down.”

William J. Ford contributed to this report.


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Senate race developments: Olszewski backs Alsobrooks, Anne Arundel businessman eyes Democratic primary