Maryland’s 2024 primary is Tuesday — Larry Hogan’s candidacy makes Senate race uncommonly competitive

Washington — The winner of Maryland’s Democratic Senate primary Tuesday is likely to face former Republican Gov. Larry Hogan for the open seat in a race that could tip the balance of power in the Senate. 

Rep. David Trone and Prince George’s County Executive Angela Alsobrooks are the leading candidates in the brutal and costly race for the Democratic nomination, which kicked off after Democratic Sen. Ben Cardin announced last year that he would retire. The contest tees up a competitive general election fight, where the winning Democrat will all but certainly face off against the popular former governor as the party seeks to hold on to the seat in November.

Although Maryland is a deep blue state, Hogan’s late entrance into the race in February cast an easy victory for Democrats into question, making a GOP flip of the seat possible as Democrats fight to hang on to their narrow majority in the chamber. 

The two leading Democrats have been engaged in a bruising primary contest that has divided Democratic leaders in Congress. Trone and Alsobrooks have been trading attacks in recent weeks in the closely watched race, and heading into the primary, the two appeared neck and neck in the polls.

David Trone

Rep. David Trone, D-Md., speaks during a U.S. Senate Democratic candidates forum at WBFF-TV’s studio. 

Karl Merton Ferron/Baltimore Sun/Tribune News Service via Getty Images

Trone, 68, has served in the House since 2019. With deep pockets as the owner of alcohol retailer Total Wine & More, the Maryland Democrat has dropped tens of millions into the race, smashing records for personal funding in a primary. 

He told CBS Baltimore that he’s willing to fund his own campaign in order to keep his independence, “so I’m not owned by Exxon; I’m not owned by Pfizer.” And his approach may score him points within the party as Democrats eye a costly general election fight against Hogan. Trone has been clear that his fortune is self-made, pointing to humble beginnings on a farm.

The third-term congressman has also touted his ability to work across the aisle, with an emphasis on addressing issues like opioid addiction. He has the backing of House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries, along with fellow members of House Democratic leadership, Reps. Katherine Clark and Pete Aguilar. 

Angela Alsobrooks

FILE: Angela Alsobrooks, Prince George’s County Executive, during a media event organized by the Alsobrooks campaign at Gwynn Oak Park on Monday Aug. 28, 2023.

Baltimore Sun

Alsobrooks, 53, currently serves as Prince George’s County executive. The former prosecutor would be the first Black woman to represent Maryland in the Senate, and just the fourth Black woman to serve in the Senate in its history.

The favorite of Maryland’s Democratic establishment, Alsobrooks has the backing of Maryland Gov. Wes Moore, Sen. Chris Van Hollen and Reps. Steny Hoyer and Jamie Raskin.

“This is a people-powered race, as it should be,” Alsobrooks said of her numerous supporters on “America Decides” earlier this month. 

When it comes to taking on Hogan in November, Alsobrooks said that the former governor has a “record that he will have to defend,” pointing to his record on abortion, among other things, which she’s made a central tenet of her campaign.

“These are issues that are core to Marylanders,” she said. “And they are issues that I think will mean in the fall that we will prevail in keeping the Democratic party in control in the Senate.”

A key race in November

FILE: Former Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan speaks during an interview on Dec. 19, 2022. 

Karl Merton Ferron/Baltimore Sun/Tribune News Service via Getty Images

Hogan’s surprise entrance into the race in February introduced a major challenge for Democrats looking to hold onto their one-seat majority in the Senate.

A Republican win in Maryland could doom Democrats’ majority in the chamber. And even before Hogan’s announcement, Democrats faced steep odds of holding the majority. Though Republicans are defending 10 safely red seats, three Democrats are up for reelection in states that Trump won in 2020. And in another five states considered swing states, Democrats’ reelection isn’t guaranteed. 

Hogan’s bid now threatens what seemed to be a relatively safe Democratic Maryland Senate seat. The former governor, now 67, who served from 2015 to 2023, is still very popular in the state, having recently left office with approval ratings in the 70s, and he still enjoys widespread name recognition in the state. Should Hogan win in November, it would mark the first time a Republican has won a Maryland Senate seat in nearly four decades. 

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