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Angela Alsobrooks
Angela Alsobrooks has endorsements from a slew of high-profile Democrats, including Maryland Gov. Wes Moore. Tom Williams/AP

Angela Alsobrooks Is Campaigning for History — If She Can Best Larry Hogan

This Maryland race could determine the power balance of the Senate and make the state the first to have a Black governor, attorney general and senator serving at the same time.

Angela Alsobrooks has endorsements from a slew of high-profile Democrats, including Maryland Gov. Wes Moore. Tom Williams/AP

Angela Alsobrooks was minutes from walking in the Baltimore Pride parade on Saturday when a shooting at a high school in Prince George’s County upended her carefully curated day that was supposed to be spent getting in front of as many voters as possible. Alsobrooks — the county executive, not the candidate — was whisked away in her black SUV, but only after she apologized to the dozens of volunteers who showed up to support.

A single mom and caregiver of aging parents, Alsobrooks is used to managing conflicting demands. It’s a major part of her pitch to voters: that she knows how to prioritize and how to relate.

“The people with my lived experiences generally don’t have the opportunity to serve in these offices,” said Alsobrooks in an interview with NOTUS.

But as much as her race for Senate in Maryland is about her as an individual — an establishment Democrat on the brink of making history — it also represents more for a party facing major headwinds this fall and for a historically uncertain political moment.

The race could determine which party controls the Senate, with Democrats barely hanging on. It’s also a referendum on whether anti-Trump Republicans like Alsobrooks’ opponent, Larry Hogan, can succeed in a party so consumed by the former president and whether a Trump endorsement is the kiss of death for a Republican running statewide in a Democratic state, even for a popular former two-term governor like Hogan.

And it’s a question of whether Maryland, which boasts a 30% Black population, will send its first Black woman to the U.S. Senate, making it the only state to have a Black governor, attorney general and senator serving at the same time.

“People know that this race is about the future,” Alsobrooks said.

Angela Alsobrooks poses for photos with family at Prince George's County Juneteenth celebration.
Angela Alsobrooks poses for photos at Prince George’s County Juneteenth celebration on June 15 (Jasmine Wright/NOTUS) Jasmine Wright/NOTUS

Getting to that future, though, will be an all-out brawl. Both parties have identified Maryland as one of their top priorities. Both candidates are message-disciplined. And both senatorial committees as well as outside groups have pledged to spend heavily to secure a favorable outcome, likely making it one of the most expensive Senate races this year.

“We’re effectively at the deep end,” said Democratic Sen. Chris Van Hollen of Maryland in an interview with NOTUS, noting the slim majority Democrats are fighting to keep. “And I don’t think Marylanders are going to want to cast a vote for somebody who’s going to hand over the majority to people like Ted Cruz, Rick Scott, Josh Hawley, because that will be the effect of casting a vote for Larry.”

Alsobrooks knows that tying Hogan to Donald Trump won’t be enough, and to win, she’ll have to figure out how to meld her own campaign to the shifting priorities of the state’s voters. She referenced her opponent’s skill with voters in a recent meeting with about 15 union leaders in Lanham.

“I am really concerned that we are in a race with a whole different opponent,” she told the group. “Larry Hogan is a retail politician. And he’s a person who enjoys getting out among the people in a whole different way. So we have to change our strategies a little in this race to meet him.”


In five words, Trump seemingly kneecapped the Hogan campaign’s argument that if elected, the former two-term governor would operate independently: “I would like to see him win,” Trump said in an interview with Fox News.

Hogan’s campaign quickly rejected the endorsement and reiterated that Hogan wouldn’t be returning the favor, but the damage had already been done. The county executive learned about it from an aide.

“It made sense to me,” she said of the endorsement, “because they both share the goal of gaining the majority for Republicans in the Senate.”

In a coffee shop after some of her Saturday campaign events were salvaged, I asked Alsobrooks if she believed Hogan was genuine in this race. “I will say, what he said is inconsistent with what he’s done,” she answered, carefully choosing her words.

Following up, I asked if she really believed Hogan was now “pro-choice” as he announced last week, a shift in his abortion politics, and a major issue animating the race.

“No,” Alsobrooks said bluntly, without blinking.

“I think if called upon,” she said, “he would absolutely support a [Supreme Court] justice to go on that court who would not be pro-choice. And that’s where the rubber meets the road.”

The Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee is already funding on-the-ground staff in Maryland. But at the meeting with union leaders, one rep told Alsobrooks they’re still seeing too little from her campaign in western Maryland, which leans Republican.

“It seems like a lot of our politicians think that Maryland ends in Frederick,” he said. “I’m in the vehicle running up, down the road — I see very little signage for your campaign. And that our membership sees that as well.”

Alsobrooks ahead of Baltimore Pride Parade.
Alsobrooks takes photos with volunteers ahead of the Baltimore Pride parade. (Jasmine Wright/NOTUS) Jasmine Wright/NOTUS

Alsobrooks asked for help getting more signage out. She also wants to do more to meet voters across the state face-to-face, like in backyards and at barbecues before September. And she wants to potentially use new allies, like Rep. David Trone, whom she bested in the primary, to stump in counties that he won, including the Eastern Shore.

While Alsobrooks acknowledged Hogan is a good “retail politician,” the self-identified “people person” loves that part of campaigning too. She enjoys shaking hands, holding babies and initiating hugs with strangers.

Hogan, according to Todd Eberly, a political science professor at St. Mary’s College of Maryland, has traditionally done very well in the west but also has a track record of running up the vote along the I-95 corridor in Maryland, which runs right through Baltimore.

“Not enough is made of the inroads that Hogan made in traditionally Democratic areas,” Eberly told NOTUS.

Some Democrats downplay how much Hogan’s popularity as governor should help him in his race for the Senate.

“Being the executive of a state is very different than being a senator of a party,” said former Sen. Barbara Mikulski, the first and only woman elected to the Senate from Maryland and an early supporter of Alsobrooks. “Who is [Hogan] going to be with, you know? Is he going to be another [Mitt] Romney and sit by himself all the time, not being able to do anything?”

For her own part, Alsobrooks believes that her background will set her apart from Hogan: She deals with the same problems as everyday voters and can, she hopes, drive pro-choice women and Black people to the polls.

The Democratic Senate nominee said she got into politics in 2009 after telling a friend she didn’t feel comfortable with her then-4-year-old daughter playing in the front yard alone. Her friend told her, “Unless you plan to change it, I don’t think we should keep talking about it,” Alsobrooks recounted, feeling stunned.

A few weeks later, she decided to launch her campaign for state’s attorney. Alsobrooks has since won four more races, becoming the first Black woman county executive in Prince George’s County.

But history-making comes with difficulties. Under the hot summer sun, Alsobrooks fielded questions from nearly two dozen kids at a College Park tennis camp — ranging from whether she has a helicopter just like the president (“No,” she said) and why politicians are trying to attract the Commanders NFL team to move deeper into Maryland if the state already has a better team, the Ravens.

A teenage Black girl asked her about some of the challenges she faces as a county executive. “There are challenges sometimes that come along with being the first of a very few,” she said.

“There are challenges sometimes that come along with being the first of a very few,” Alsobrooks replied.

When asked in our interview about the Senate race, Alsobrooks acknowledged the potential to make history but pointed back to her track record: “Gender and race are factors, but they’re not the only factor. I think part of what also distinguishes me from Larry Hogan, is that I’ve had that experience” of being a mother, caregiver and worker, she said.

Currently, there are no women in the Maryland congressional delegation. If successful, Alsobrooks would be the third Black woman ever elected to the Senate.

“We increasingly need to see an American government that looks like America,” said Sen. Raphael Warnock, the first Black Georgia senator, who supported Alsobrooks early. “So I think someone like Angela Alsobrooks is a great source of pride and hope. Not just for Black people, but for women.”


The last Black woman to have a serious campaign for a Maryland Senate seat was former Rep. Donna Edwards, who waged an intense fight against Van Hollen in 2016 but lacked major support from the Democratic establishment.

Edwards also made her lived experience part of her pitch to voters — she was the first Black woman to be elected for a House seat in Maryland — but her race and gender were dissected and, at times, used against her.

“I had a very controversial end because I called out the Democratic Party for not supporting Black women and people of color. I’m glad that they’ve answered the call,” Edwards told NOTUS in an interview. “Somebody had to open that door. The door’s open now, and women are coming through.”

Trying to come through those doors doesn’t ever come without risk. Just days after our interview, one of Alsobrooks’ campaign signs was vandalized, with a crosshair drawn on her forehead and the letters “KKK” written near her hands.

“We’re moving forward,” Alsobrooks said in a follow-up phone call.

One thing the campaign is quick to prop up, though, is the slew of endorsements that helped propel Alsobrooks past the primary, like Sens. Van Hollen, Warnock, Patty Murray and influential Maryland Rep. Jamie Raskin. Now, her most prominent postprimary is Vice President Kamala Harris. Harris has been Alsobrooks’ mentor for years after Alsobrooks read the now-VP’s book “Smart on Crime.”

At a rally in early June on gun violence, where Harris officially endorsed her after staying out of the primary, Alsobrooks said Harris gave her advice on resilience.

“She told me that there are rigors that we all acknowledge,” but she had to “stay focused, to keep moving forward no matter what.”

Angela Alsobrooks stands with Maryland Gov. Wes Moore and Vice President Kamala Harris.
Alsobrooks is closely allied with Vice President Kamala Harris. Jasmine Wright/NOTUS

Alsobrooks had also received the backing of Maryland Gov. Wes Moore during her primary, which he told NOTUS he was advised against doing.

“They said sitting governors generally don’t get into competitive primaries … and I respected their opinions, but I just said, but there was no way that I’m sitting this out,” Moore said. “I’ve seen her when negotiations were tough. I’ve seen her lead during COVID. And every single time I walk away, [I am] not just impressed but inspired.”

Alsobrooks’ close alignment with her party also means she will have to face the dissatisfaction and frustration voters have across the country with Democrats over issues like inflation.

“I understand that frustration,” she said. Young people “have said to me that in this climate, they don’t want to hear about, you know, lower inflation or just low unemployment, when they don’t know about their housing. So they want us all to be mindful about what this means for their daily lives.”

I asked if Democrats talk about the limits of the economy and how people feel in the right way. “I’m a part of the party. And I’m trying to do my part,” she said. Asked if she wants Joe Biden to campaign for her, she said, “Of course, I would love that. I think President Biden has been an amazing president.”

Whether he shows up or not, she says she’s ready to do whatever she has to do to prioritize and juggle however she must to win the seat.

“Every single race, people have doubted me every single race,” she said. “You got to work. You got to earn it, is what I’m saying. You have to earn it, and I don’t mind earning. I really don’t.”

Jasmine Wright is a reporter at NOTUS.