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Election 2024 Government & Politics

Political Notes: Jones endorses Alsobrooks, Latino candidate shut out of Latino group’s forum, a ‘centrist’ group on EVs, and more

Prince George’s County Executive Angela Alsobrooks (D) was endorsed in her run for U.S. Senate by Maryland House Speaker Adrienne A. Jones (D-Baltimore County) on Aug. 28, 2023. Photo by Danielle J. Brown.

There are currently no women serving in the Maryland congressional delegation. House Speaker Adrienne Jones (D-Baltimore) wants that to change, she said, as she announced her endorsement for Prince George’s County Executive Angela Alsobrooks in her pursuit of a U.S. Senate seat Monday in Baltimore.

“I want to see a Black woman from Maryland in the United States Senate. But more importantly, I want someone in the office who can get it right.” Jones said Monday at Gwynn Oak Park in Baltimore.

Jones pointed to Alsobrooks’ current experience as county executive, a former prosecutor and a mother as reasons she believes Alsobrooks is qualified for the Senate seat.

“Big pieces of Washington, D.C. are broken. The status quo isn’t cutting it,” Jones said. “We need a U.S. senator who can ask tough questions like a prosecutor, lead like a county executive, and evaluate judicial appointments — like a mom.”

Jones herself made history when she was chosen to be House Speaker, as the first woman and the first Black delegate to hold the position.

U.S. Rep. Kweisi Mfume (D-7th), Del. Dana Stein (D-Baltimore County), state Sen. Ben Brooks (D-Baltimore County), and Baltimore County Executive John A. Olszewski (D) were among those who attended the endorsement announcement.

The campaign event took place at Gwynn Oak Park, which was desegregated 60 years ago on Aug. 28, 1963, the same day as the historic March on Washington.

Jones noted that when she was a young child, the Gwynn Oak park was not open for Black residents.

“This is a park I knew very well,” Jones said. “I want you to look around, imagine a park with three roller coasters, a trolley, a dance hall, a carousel. I knew this park as a child, I just wasn’t allowed to come to this park. Segregation meant this was not my park,” Jones said.

Alsobrooks also spoke on the historic significance of the park and its place in civil rights history

“What a beautifully historic day this is,” she said. “As we recognize the 60th anniversary of the March on Washington. The significance of this day really cannot be overstated.”

Latino candidate shut out of Latino group’s forum

Speaking of the Democratic Senate primary, Juan Dominguez, an Anne Arundel County businessman who set up an exploratory committee in the spring ahead of an expected full-blown campaign, is protesting the fact that he’s not being allowed to participate in the Latino Democrats of Prince George’s County Senate forum scheduled for Sept. 30.

Dominguez, the son of Cuban emigres, will likely be the only Latino candidate in the race.

In an interview, Dominguez said he was told by club leaders that they had set a financial threshold for participating in the forum: Candidates had to have raised at least $200,000 to be invited. As a result, only Prince George’s County Executive Angela Alsobrooks, Montgomery County Councilmember Will Jawando and U.S. Rep. David Trone are expected to appear.

Dominguez said he objected to the random threshold, and he argued that he met it, in a roundabout way. But club officials have yet to respond.

“They’ve gone radio silent,” Dominguez said.

Former state Sen. Victor Ramirez, the chair of the Prince George’s Latino Democrats, did not immediately respond to a phone message Monday.

Dominguez’ report of campaign finance activities between April 1 and June 30 — filed with the Federal Election Commission in mid-August, six weeks after the filing deadline — showed he raised $97,792 during that period, including a $21,600 loan from his own pocket.

But Dominguez said he recently donated a practically new family RV to his campaign, with only 3,000 miles on it, to travel around the state as he stumps for Senate. The RV’s estimated value exceeds $100,000, and the donation counts as an in-kind contribution. As such, he argued, he has exceeded the $200,000 threshold.

During the same fundraising period, Trone took in $9,833,793 — $9,725,000 from his own pocket, Alsobrooks raised $1,730,019 and Jawando raised $526,026.

Dominguez said he’s not surprised by the snub.

“I think this is the establishment saying, ‘Here are our three people: good luck,’” he said. Citing last week’s nationally televised Republican presidential debate, which featured eight candidates, Dominguez said there’s value in having multiple voices on a debate stage.

“I expect to see more of the same, but I’m unbowed,” he said.

Who are those guys?

As the Moore administration comes close to adopting a regulation that would align Maryland’s climate goals for electric vehicle sales with California’s, a shadowy national group has released a poll suggesting that many state voters oppose the mandate.

Earlier this year, the Maryland Air Quality Control Advisory Council voted unanimously to recommend that the Maryland Department of the Environment adopt the so-called Advanced Clean Cars II Standards, pioneered by California, to speed the transition from internal combustion engines to vehicles powered by electric batteries. The rule sets benchmarks for a certain percentage of new car sales in the state to be electric vehicles, with the number growing through the years.

Gov. Wes Moore (D) supports the idea; he celebrated the recommendation by driving a sporty EV around a Baltimore parking lot in March, and the Department of the Environment is expected to finalize a regulation laying out the timetable for gradually increasing electric vehicle sales in the state in September.

But now a national group called Centrist Democrats of America is pushing a poll taken in April showing that Maryland voters aren’t fully embracing EV mandates. The poll of 600 voters, conducted April 12-17 by Lincoln Park Strategies, a Washington, D.C., Democratic firm, had a 4-point margin of error.

The poll was first released in May but was re-released last week because the state’s decision on Clean Cars II is imminent. The key findings:

  • Only 6% of Maryland voters polled said they plan to purchase an EV in the next year.
  • 79% of Maryland voters said they were very concerned about climate change and its effects. Democrats were most likely to be very concerned.
  • 50% of Maryland voters thought government spending should focus on priorities like schools, health care and public safety, not trying to make more people buy EVs.
  • Nearly half of Maryland (44%) voters thought EVs are too expensive and designed for wealthy drivers.
  • Just 3% of Maryland voters said more funding for increasing the number of EVs should be the top government funding priority.
  • 67% of Maryland voters supported the governor being required to get approval from the state legislature to implement an EV policy that would ban the sale of new gas powered vehicles by 2035.
  • Only 13% of those polled thought the state needs to do whatever it can to get as many EVs on the road as quickly as possible in Maryland, including the state subsidizing the costs of the cars, banning the sale of new gas and diesel vehicles, and building the infrastructure for charging stations.
  • Only 11% of respondents said they strongly support Maryland continuing to adopt all of California’s vehicle emission laws. And 44% of respondents think Maryland should not be adopting vehicle policies written by California or any other state.

“If Democrats want to be the party for the working-class Americans, we can’t force low-income and middle-class families to buy expensive EVs,” said former U.S. Rep. Ronnie Shows (D-Miss.), who is chair of the Centrist Democrats of America (CDA) board. “The polling is clear that Democrats in Maryland are smart to be supportive of government policies that sensibly promote EVs. But calling for bans on the sale of new gas- and diesel-powered vehicles is not popular with voters.”

Shows is popping up all over the country, in published op-eds or in stories about polling on electric vehicles, expressing skepticism about EV mandates. But it begs the question: What is Centrist Democrats of America? And who is funding the group?

A spokesperson for the organization called it “a letterhead coalition,” rather than a political action committee or policy education organization, and isn’t in the regular business of political fundraising. But the organization does accept contributions, which cannot be tracked anywhere. So if CDA is being funded by auto dealers or fossil fuel interests, the public will never know.

Coincidentally, Shows and a fellow CDA board member, former U.S. Rep. David Phelps (D-Ill.), both served in the House from 1999 to 2003, representing conservative rural districts, and both lost their seats in 2002 after redistricting eliminated their districts and threw them into general election races with Republican incumbents. Shows has done a certain amount of lobbying since leaving office.

Ivey at the CBC

The Congressional Black Caucus Foundation will host its 52nd annual legislative conference Sept. 20 to 23 at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center in Washington, D.C.

Rep. Glenn Ivey (D-4th), elected to Congress last year, will host a discussion Sept. 22 entitled “Black in Business – Life After the SCOTUS Ruling on Affirmative Action.”

Part of the discussion will assess whether the U.S. Supreme Court’s 6-3 decision to strike down the use of affirmative college in college admissions will affect the diversity workforce among businesses.

The majority ruled the admissions processes at Harvard University and the University of North Carolina violate the equal protection clause of the 14th Amendment.

A study by the Urban Institute of Washington, D.C., noted “underrepresented groups” at the University of California system declined by 12% when it eliminated affirmative action in 1996. The institute also concluded that Black undergraduate enrollment at the University of Michigan decreased from 7% in 2006, when it banned race-conscious admissions, to 4% two years ago.

“Better national data on the admissions process will be critical to understanding the effectiveness of race-neutral policies,” according to the institute.

As of Monday, the CBC agenda lists Ivey and the other nine caucus members who joined this year will host panel discussions.


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Political Notes: Jones endorses Alsobrooks, Latino candidate shut out of Latino group’s forum, a ‘centrist’ group on EVs, and more