This is the Democrats’ best chance of electing a black senator in 2024
Prince George’s County Executive Angela Alsobrooks entered the race for Maryland’s vacant seat in the U.S. Senate on Tuesday, immediately becoming the Democratic Party’s best shot at bringing a black woman into the Senate since Vice President Kamala Harris took office in 2016 to choose.
Since Reconstruction, there have only been nine black U.S. Senators, and only two of those — Harris and former Illinois Senator Carol Moseley Braun — have been women.
Alsobrooks, 52, is serving her second term as county commissioner after eight years as chief prosecutor in Prince George’s County, a suburban-majority black county outside of Washington, DC. She is expected to be quick to garner support from key Democrats and outside groups, including EMILY’s List, which supports Democratic women who support abortion rights.
“I get it: there aren’t many people in the US Senate who like me,” Alsobrooks said in a video to launch her campaign. “People who live, think and look like the people they are meant to represent. I’m running for Senate to be a voice for families like the ones I grew up with.”
Alsobrooks opens the video with a harrowing story: A South Carolina sheriff’s deputy shot her great-grandfather and threatened her mother, grandmother, and great-grandmother in the 1950s, forcing them to flee the state and settle in Maryland.
Support for EMILY’s list, which has aggressively invested in primaries in the past, could end up being crucial to Alsobrooks’ chances. Rep. David Trone, the co-founder of Total Wine and More and one of the wealthiest members of Congress, has already announced his own candidacy for the seat. Trone said he could spend up to $50 million of his own fortune on the race.
His campaign has already begun airing ads highlighting his pledge not to accept campaign contributions from political action committees or lobbyists, his work to fight drug overdoses and overhaul the criminal justice system.
The seat is vacant following the announcement earlier this month of the resignation of three-year Senator Ben Cardin (D). Montgomery County City Councilman Will Jawando, another black candidate, has also announced an offer.
Rep. Jamie Raskin, who has garnered national attention for his role in President Donald Trump’s second impeachment trial and his serving on the House Committee investigating the Jan. 6, 2021 riot, is also considering running.
Raskin would likely be the most progressive candidate in the Democratic primary, with Trone, Alsobrooks and Jawando all considered to be in the party’s ideological mainstream. All four candidates also hail from the voting-rich DC suburbs, leaving a potential job open for a Baltimore-based candidate. Baltimore County executive Johnny Olszewski could fill that void.
Any Democratic primary winner would be a strong favorite in the general election. President Joe Biden won Maryland in 2020 by 33 percentage points.
Alsobrooks isn’t the only black woman running for Senate this year, with Rep. Barbara Lee running to replace retired Senator Dianne Feinstein in California. However, political forecasters give Alsobrooks a much better chance of victory: Lee is up against two front-runners, MPs Katie Porter and Adam Schiff, and he is not expected to garner as much institutional and mainstream support as Alsobrooks.
Black Congressman Colin Allred is the leading Democratic candidate challenging Senator Ted Cruz in Texas.