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Democrats confident about Maryland after Alsobrooks beats Trone

GOP nominee Hogan will test if popularity he had as governor translates to Senate race

Senate candidate Angela Alsobrooks and Gov. Wes Moore, D-Md., film a video message at Lewisdale Elementary School in Chillum, Md., on Tuesday.
Senate candidate Angela Alsobrooks and Gov. Wes Moore, D-Md., film a video message at Lewisdale Elementary School in Chillum, Md., on Tuesday. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Democrats who backed Maryland Senate primary winner Angela Alsobrooks brushed aside concerns Wednesday that they might miss the millions of dollars Rep. David Trone was willing to spend to keep the seat under the party’s control. 

But a win in November will mean a previously little-known county official must defeat a former Republican governor whose victories in an otherwise blue state led some to consider him a presidential contender.  

The race will be a test of whether Larry Hogan can do what other former governors who tried to flip Senate seats weren’t able to do. And he’ll try to do it by preventing Alsobrooks from becoming the state’s first Black woman in the Senate, and just the third to be elected to the chamber. Sen. Laphonza Butler, D-Calif., was appointed to her seat.

Alsobrooks, the Prince George’s County executive, defeated Trone on Tuesday in a primary that grew increasingly contentious in its final weeks. But in the end, after Trone poured nearly $62 million of his personal wealth into his campaign, the result wasn’t particularly close. Alsobrooks led by 12 percentage points with 66 percent of the votes counted as of Wednesday afternoon.

Trone supporters like state Attorney General Anthony Brown said the party was united after the race was called Tuesday night. And her supporters pointed to the margin of victory as proof that Alsobrooks is the kind of candidate who can overcome major hurdles.

“She’s got a great record to run on. She will help deliver for Maryland like she has delivered for Prince George’s County. She’s a dynamic and determined candidate, and Marylanders know their political math,” Sen. Chris Van Hollen, who backed Alsobrooks in the primary, said Wednesday. He was referencing a common Democratic refrain that the state’s voters won’t want to support Hogan because they recognize doing so could flip control of the Senate to Republicans.   

Van Hollen, a former chair of the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, predicted that even without a vast personal fortune, Alsobrooks would be able to raise the necessary resources for a competitive race. He predicted that more of his colleagues would begin to support her campaign, something a handful had already done ahead of the primary election.

Alsobrooks raised $7.8 million through April 24, Federal Election Commission filings show. She had $1.9 million on hand going into the final weeks of the primary. Hogan raised $3 million and had $1.7 million on hand as of the most recent FEC reports. 

Democrats insist that Hogan’s Senate bid will end similarly to campaigns by Montana’s Steve Bullock and Tennessee’s Phil Bredesen, who both served as Democratic governors in red states but went on to lose Senate races in recent years. 

National Democrats have signaled they will seek to emphasize Hogan’s plans to caucus with Republicans. The DSCC released a digital ad Tuesday night highlighting that Hogan’s election would likely mean a Republican majority in the Senate.

Like in other states, they’re also poised to focus on abortion, especially a bill Hogan vetoed in 2022 that would have allowed medical professionals other than physicians to perform them. The state’s legislature later voted to override the veto. 

Hogan, meanwhile, has emphasized his bipartisan record and said that voters know him to be an independent voice.

“You know that I’m not going to be just one more Capitol Hill Republican,” he said Tuesday night speaking to supporters at an election night gathering.

Republicans emphasize Hogan’s status as a two-term governor who’s maintained high favorability levels since leaving office in early 2023. He’s pushed back against former President Donald Trump, even considering a run for president last year. Sen. Steve Daines, the chair of the National Republican Senatorial Committee, said that Maryland voters know that Hogan “is a maverick and is not going to be beholden to any particular interest group or any particular party.”

Hogan also sought to push back on attacks that he is anti-abortion. Speaking at an Axios event earlier this year, Hogan was noncommittal about whether he’d support legislation to codify Roe v. Wade.

“Let me once again set the record straight. To the women of Maryland, you have my word that I will continue to protect your right to make your own reproductive health decisions just like we did for eight years,” Hogan said Tuesday night. 

But Hogan also pointed to topics that are likely to resonate with the Republican base during his remarks, saying that if elected he would “work to secure the border and fix the broken immigration system,” while also recognizing National Police Week.

Republicans also will likely focus on Hogan’s record on crime as a contrast to Alsobrooks, arguing that as county executive she underfunded law enforcement. 

“Larry is somebody who is out there at the retail level, shaking hands. When you think about what he did with Baltimore. You had the left saying we should defund the police. Larry goes right into Baltimore and says we should refund the police. We need stronger law enforcement in our communities,” Daines said. 

Outside groups could also play an additional role in the campaign. One Nation, a Republican nonprofit with ties to the party’s Senate leadership, announced an $88 million ad campaign across six states with key Senate races earlier this week, but didn’t announce any reservations in Maryland. 

EMILY’s List, a group that supports pro-choice Democratic women, endorsed Alsobrooks and its independent expenditure arm, Women Vote, spent $2.5 million during the primary to oppose Trone.

Jesssica Mackler, the EMILY’s List president, declined to detail the group’s spending plans for the general election, but said that the group would continue working closely with Alsobrooks’ campaign. 

“We got into this campaign with Angela on day two because we knew from the very beginning that this was the kind of race that EMILY’s List was built for,” she said.

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