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Election 2024 Government & Politics

Political Notes: Del. Chang joining congressional race, Trone leads in his own poll, Nick Charles to be sworn in

Del. Mark S. Chang (D-Anne Arundel) has joined the 3rd District congressional race. Campaign photo.

Now there are six.

Del. Mark S. Chang (D-Anne Arundel) will become the sixth state legislator to seek the 3rd District congressional seat, which U.S. Rep. John Sarbanes (D) is giving up at the end of next year after serving for nine terms.

Chang, who will officially announce his candidacy for the May 14 Democratic primary on Tuesday, said in an interview that he’s running for Congress to become “a voice for the voiceless.”

Chang, who has served in the House of Delegates since 2015 and is the vice chair of the Appropriations Committee, is the son of South Korean immigrants who grew up poor in the Glen Burnie area. But he said that as an adult, and even while serving in the legislature, he has at times felt felt alone and powerless — a circumstance that will be part of his appeal to voters and “the new Americans, the first generation,” who often feel shut out of the political process.

“I’ve walked alone for my entire life — ever since I was a kid and now,” he said. “I want to share my story. I want to share my story and my life and about being left out in the cold.”

Chang, 47, becomes the sixth Democratic lawmaker running for Sarbanes’ seat in 2024 — and in a presidential election year, none of the legislators has to give up their state jobs to run for Congress. The other candidates from the legislature are: Del. Vanessa E. Atterbeary (D-Howard), Sen. Sarah K. Elfreth (D-Anne Arundel), Del. Terri L. Hill (D-Howard), Sen. Clarence K. Lam (D-Howard) and Del. Mike Rogers (D-Anne Arundel).

Chang and Rogers, in fact, represent the same legislative district, which takes in sections of northern and central Anne Arundel. The district’s senator, Pamela Beidle, has endorsed Elfreth.

“There are a lot of quality candidates — it’s a diverse field,” Chang said. “All of my colleagues bring a lot of talent and passion. It’ll all just depend on how we connect with the people.”

Chang said he will attempt to distinguish himself from his opponents by emphasizing that he is a lifelong resident of the congressional district, which covers Howard and Anne Arundel counties and a sliver of Carroll County, and that he has worked as a legislator with leaders from several communities that aren’t part of his current legislative territory. He said that on the campaign trail, he will focus on social justice and eradicating hate crimes; eliminating student debt; passing universal health care legislation; combating gun violence; creating more affordable housing; and bolstering reproductive rights.

“It’s a grass-roots effort,” he said. “It’s about people coming together.”

In a related development, Lam, who just joined the congressional race last week, announced Monday that he raised over $100,000 in the first 48 hours of his candidacy.

“During the first two days of my campaign, I felt the tremendous enthusiasm from supporters across our community,” Lam, whose legislative district includes parts of both Anne Arundel and Howard counties, said in a statement. “This early momentum is just the start — I know that we will see our support and contributors grow as we continue to promote our record public service and demonstrate our commitment to fighting for our communities.”

The current fundraising quarter for federal candidates ends at the end of the year. Candidates will be obligated to report their year-end financial totals on Jan. 31.

Trone’s poll shows him leading in Senate primary  

U.S. Rep. David Trone (D-6th) has opened up a 7-point lead over his principal opponent in next year’s Democratic primary for U.S. Senate. That’s according to a poll commissioned by Trone’s campaign, which was released on Monday.

The poll of 1,000 likely Democratic primary voters, taken Nov. 27-30, showed Trone taking 41% of the vote and Prince George’s County Executive Angela Alsobrooks (D) with 34%. One percent of the survey respondents said they were backing another candidate in the primary, and the rest of those polled said they did not know who they were supporting or would not say.

The poll, which had a 3.1-point margin of error, comes after Trone, a wealthy businessman, has been on the airwaves with TV ads for the past several months. Alsobrooks has yet to begin a TV ad campaign.

In a statement, Dan Morrocco, Trone’s campaign manager, said the poll showed the congressman with “a commanding lead.”

“Despite the political establishment’s best efforts to hand-pick one of our opponents, our recent polling confirms what we’ve heard from voters across the state: Marylanders are tired of career politicians and want a progressive change agent with a proven track record of getting things done and passing major legislation that helps everyday people,” Morrocco said.

That’s a line of attack that Trone, a three-term congressman, has increasingly used against Alsobrooks, who spent eight years as Prince George’s County state’s attorney before being elected county executive in 2018. Alsobrooks has vacuumed up scores of endorsements from prominent elected Democrats.

The Trone poll was conducted by Hickman Analytics, Inc., the congressman’s longtime pollster. Harrison Hickman, the principal of the firm, told Maryland Matters that about 65% of the Democrats surveyed were interviewed on their cell phones, while 25% were interviewed on landlines. Another 10% of the survey respondents were Democrats who did not answer their cell phones but did respond to texts and answered the poll questions online.

The poll respondents were first asked about their party affiliation, and if they were Democrats, they were asked whether they planned to vote in the May 14 primary. Democrats who said they were certain or likely to vote were then asked whether they held favorable views of President Biden, Gov. Wes Moore (D), and Trone and Alsobrooks.

Trone was viewed favorably by 55% of the survey respondents and unfavorably by 11%. Nine percent said they had mixed opinions of the congressman, while 11% said they couldn’t rate him and 14% said they had never heard of him.

Alsobrooks was seen favorably by 49% of the poll respondents and unfavorably by 6%. Seven percent said they had mixed views, while 13% said they couldn’t rate her and 27% said they never heard of her.

After that round of questions, the voters were asked about their preferences in the Democratic Senate primary. The Trone campaign said that 42% of the survey respondents were Black and 62% were women.

Charles in charge

Del. Nick Charles (D-Prince George’s) will be sworn in Tuesday as the next state senator to represent legislative District 25.

Charles will replace former Sen. Melony G. Griffth (D), who resigned earlier this fall to become president and CEO of the Maryland Hospital Association.

Del. Nick Charles. Photo courtesy of Maryland General Assembly.

Charles, who turns 41 on Dec. 16, was the only person who appeared last month before the Prince George’s County Democratic Central Committee seeking to be nominated to replace Griffith.

With Griffith’s departure from the legislature, Senate President Bill Ferguson (D-Baltimore City) announced changes to various committees, including the appointment of Sen. Pamela Beidle (D-Anne Arundel) to succeed Griffith as Finance Committee chair.

Charles, who serves on the House Ways and Means Committee, could be assigned to the Senate Judicial Proceedings Committee and replace his Prince George’s colleague, Sen. Alonzo T. Washington (D). Washington switched to the Finance Committee.

Charles has served in the House of Delegates for more than four years representing municipalities and communities in Prince George’s that include the city of District Heights, Largo and Suitland.

With Charles moving to the Senate chamber, he’ll have to relinquish his duties as the county’s House delegation chair.

That responsibility would go to Del. Nicole Williams (D-Prince George’s) as interim chair, who serves as the delegation’s first vice chair. Williams confirmed she’s interested in serving as chair.

Meanwhile, the county’s Democratic Central Committee must schedule another meeting to fill Charles’ House seat.

Whomever the committee selects will work alongside Dels. Karen Toles (D) and Kent Roberson (D) — who were both initially appointed to their seats.

The committee nominated Toles last year to replace Dereck E. Davis, a former delegate who’s now the state treasurer. Gov. Wes Moore (D) appointed Roberson this year to replace former Del. Darryl Barnes, now a partner at the Annapolis lobbying and government relations firm Evans, Barnes & Associates.

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Political Notes: Del. Chang joining congressional race, Trone leads in his own poll, Nick Charles to be sworn in