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Election 2024 Government & Politics

Alsobrooks tells supporters she’s ‘on course to win’ Democratic Senate nomination

Prince George’s County Executive Angela Alsobrooks, right, chats with Beverly Moore at East Columbia 50+ Center in Howard County on May 6, 2024. Photo by William J. Ford.

Janice Turner calmly walked toward St. John Baptist Church in Columbia ready to cast her ballot Monday during early voting in Maryland’s primary election.

Before the Columbia resident voted, she chatted with Prince George’s County Executive Angela Alsobrooks (D) and received a lime-green Alsobrooks wristband. Turner gladly accepted it and strapped it around her left wrist.

“She already earned my vote,” Turner said as she walked to park her vehicle closer to the church entrance used an early voting center. “I liked what she did with Prince George’s County in terms of bringing new businesses and things like that.”

But there’s another important aspect for Turner: Alsobrooks is pursuing history and trying to become just the third Black woman ever elected to the U.S. Senate and the first Black woman to represent Maryland in that chamber.

“I think she has the voice, and she has the momentum behind her. She is determined to get things done,” Turner said.

Alsobrooks received plenty of friendly responses as she spent the day in Howard County chatting with voters midway through the eight-day early voting period.

She came comfortably prepared, wearing a blue pants suit, black scarf and white, low-top Converse Chuck Taylor All-Star tennis shoes.

The 53-year-old county executive traveled throughout the jurisdiction Monday, accompanied at a few spots by the state’s other Black county executive, Calvin Ball (D), whose political career in Howard dates back to 2006.

Sid Henkin, right, and his daughter Becky, voted for Prince George’s County Executive Angela Alsobrooks (D) on May 6, 2024. Henkin chats with the county executive outside Whole Foods grocery store in Columbia. Howard County Executive Calvin Ball, back left, listens. Photo by William J. Ford.

Ball said Alsobrooks brings not only experience such as winning federal money for her majority-Black jurisdiction, but also represents what’s not currently seen in the U.S. Senate.

Without mentioning a name, Ball said the chamber doesn’t need another rich individual. Alsobrooks’ primary Democratic opponent, Rep. David Trone (D-6th), co-owns the national liquor chain Total Wine & More.

“We should be looking like the people we serve and the U.S. Senate does not reflect that diversity and inclusion that is in our nation,” Ball said in an interview outside Whole Foods grocery store in Columbia. “Having another multi-millionaire who doesn’t necessarily represent the beautiful fabric and tapestry of our diversity is not going to be a stronger voice as someone like County Executive Alsobrooks. She’s a Prince George’s County native [who can] actually can fight for us and tell our stories.”

Trone has come under fire in recent days for things he said in a television interview and in an ad; Alsobrooks’ supporters took exception because they felt he implied she’s unqualified to handle the job of senator.

Several Democratic leaders from Prince George’s support the congressman over Alsobrooks, including Attorney General Anthony Brown, State’s Attorney Aisha Braveboy, state Sen. Joanne C. Benson and state Del. Joseline Peña-Melnyk, chair of the Health and Government Operations Committee.

But Alsobrooks allies point out that those individuals have received generous campaign contributions from Trone over the years.

In addition, some weren’t pleased during a televised debate in Baltimore last month how Trone said he has “the persona to win across the state” in places like the Eastern Shore and Western Maryland.

Oliver Henderson of Howard County, a former Prince George’s County resident, touched upon that in an interview Monday.

“I’m concerned about how much support she’ll get throughout the state [in the general election]. I don’t know where that stands,” Henderson said standing beside his wife, Frances, who came to hear Alsobrooks give remarks at the East Columbia 50+ Center, a senior center. “Howard County is one thing, Prince George’s County is another, but is she going to get the same type of support in Queen Anne’s County and Carroll County and some of the other counties around the state?…”

…In jurisdictions that “don’t look like us,” Frances Henderson said, finishing her husband’s sentence about Black voters.

As of Monday, the couple still hasn’t voted because they wanted to hear directly from Alsobrooks on her vision.

They also attended an event to hear Trone, but were impressed with Alsobrooks. When she said Trone has donated to Republican candidates over the years, Oliver Henderson was surprised.

“If you do it once, it tells me a little bit about the way that you think,” he said. “We’ve got an individual who feels that everything is for sale, or you can put $1 on everything in terms of [former Republican President] Donald Trump. We don’t need someone else who feels that sentiment.”

‘On course to win’

During her remarks at the senior center in Columbia, Alsobrooks threw back Trone’s frequently-repeated line about he doesn’t accept money from super PACs, or political action committees.

“He is one,” Alsobrooks said to the two dozen people at the center. “He’s come to understand that that’s what he believes is required of him…to buy political access. Even after that, we are on course to win this race.”

Prince George’s County Executive Angela Alsobrooks, center, chats with Emily Sine, right, outside Whole Foods grocery store in Columbia on May 6, 2024. Sine is with her 8-month-old baby, Annie Fine. Del. Jessica Feldmark (D-Howard) listens. Photo by William J. Ford.

According to campaign finance reports, Trone has invested more than $57 million of his own fortune in the campaign. In comparison, the Alsobrooks campaign has raised more than $7.8 million. But the campaign has a host of volunteers and other supporters visible at polls sporting the signature lime-green T-shirts with Alsobrooks’ name emblazoned in black letters.

At the Columbia center Monday, Alsobrooks highlighted part of her background as a graduate of Duke University in Durham, North Carolina.

“You know Marylanders hate the Blue Devils. They do not like Duke University basketball,” she said to some laughs, highlighting the previous rivalry when Duke and the University of Maryland, College Park, competed in the Atlantic Coast Conference. Maryland is now a member of the Big Ten Conference.

But she returned home and graduated from law school at the University of Maryland.

A few people at the center said they didn’t know she had worked as a law clerk after graduation for former Howard County Circuit Court Judge Donna Hill Staton.

Alsobrooks’ 27-year public service career includes many firsts: Prince George’s first full-time prosecutor to handle domestic violence cases, the youngest and first woman elected as the county’s state’s attorney in 2010 and the first woman elected as county executive eight years later.

One particular part of her life she’s proud of is her 18-year-old daughter, Alex, who’s about to complete her freshman year at Spelman College in Atlanta.

If elected to the Senate, she said her top priorities would include a woman’s right to choose, protecting Social Security, capping insulin at $35 and supporting the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act.

During a question and answer period, a woman asked about the origin of Alsobrooks’ last name.

“My grandfather told me the origin is Native American derivation,” she said. “This is where my father’s family is from. Then he told me he went on a mission’s trip with his church. He came back and said, ‘Oh, my goodness, there are some Alsobrooks in West Africa.’ So now I got to figure this whole thing out. It’s one or both.”

After she left the center, Alsobrooks spoke with shoppers at Whole Foods in Columbia.

She chatted with at least three people who told her they voted for her in the Democratic primary.

Prince George’s County Executive Angela Alsobrooks thanks Gendy O’Brien for her vote before O’Brien walks in to the Whole Foods grocery story in Columbia on May 6, 2024. Photo by William J. Ford.

“I looked her up and saw that her values for women, the elderly, the children can make the Senate better,” said Gendy O’Brien of Howard County, who turned in her mail-in ballot Monday. “She’s not afraid. I love that. She’s got cojones. I’m like, ‘get in there [and] do it. You got my support.’”

Sid Henkin, 79, voted for Alsobrooks on Monday on the advice of a friend.

“He thought the world of you, so I figured if he thought the world of you, I may as well, too,” he said.

“Thank you,” Alsobrooks replied.

When asked about former Gov. Larry Hogan (R) leading in some general election polls, Henkin said that Hogan did “a wonderful job.”

“It’s not going to be a landslide one way or the other,” he said. “If Larry Hogan were reelected as governor, that wouldn’t be bad.”

The winner of the Senate race this fall will replace Sen. Ben Cardin (D), who announced last year his plans to not seek reelection after nearly six decades in public office.

Henkin’s 42-year-old daughter, Becky, who also voted for Alsobrooks, simply said, “I think there should be more women. That’s all I can say.”


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Alsobrooks tells supporters she’s ‘on course to win’ Democratic Senate nomination