Facing down low poll numbers and a disadvantage in fundraising, U.S. Senate candidate Angela Alsobrooks this week ousted her campaign manager and brought in half a dozen new hires.
Alsobrooks is one of the leading contenders in the 2024 Democratic primary for Maryland’s open Senate seat. The Prince George’s County executive is facing off against wealthy U.S. Rep. David Trone and a handful of other candidates.
Gone is campaign manager Dave Chase, replaced by Sheila O’Connell, who joins the Alsobrooks campaign from McKenna Media and who was previously campaign manager for U.S. Sen. Chris Van Hollen in 2016. Alsobrooks thanked Chase for “sharing his gifts and talents and getting the campaign off to a strong start.”
“As we move into the election year, we are excited to continue to move this grassroots campaign forward and meet Marylanders where they are as we approach May 14,” Alsobrooks said in a statement announcing the staff changes.
Alsobrooks launched her campaign last spring facing a significant financial disadvantage to Trone, co-founder of the Total Wine & More liquor chain who has poured millions of his own money into past campaigns. Trone has already spent more than $10 million on this Senate campaign, using some of that money on TV ads and glossy direct mail to reach voters.
As of the last round of campaign finance reports in October, Trone had about $436,000 in the bank, but he has the ability to loan himself millions more. Alsobrooks has spent about $1.1 million so far and has $2.1 million in her campaign account.
The early push by Trone may be paying off: An internal poll of 1,000 likely Democratic voters his campaign released earlier this month showed him leading Alsobrooks, 41% to 34%, with 25% undecided.
Trone’s poll also showed that he had 75% name recognition, compared to 60% for Alsobrooks.
And another independent poll obtained by The Baltimore Banner showed a slightly narrower Trone advantage over Alsobrooks: 36% to 31%, with 18% undecided. The survey of 813 likely voters was commissioned by Blended Public Affairs and Annapolis lobbying firm Perry, White, Ross & Jacobson LLC in mid-November.
The poll indicated Alsobrooks is in trouble among Baltimore Democrats, where Trone leads her 31% to 18%.
The poll also did hypothetical general election matchups of both Alsobrooks and Trone against former Republican Gov. Larry Hogan. Trone is ahead of Hogan, 49% to 34%, while Alsobrooks trails Hogan, 42% to 36%. Hogan has said he’s not interested in running for the Senate, and continues to flirt with a third-party presidential bid.
The Alsobrooks campaign declined to comment on the polling and did not offer further comment on the staff changes. The Trone campaign touted the numbers showing their candidate’s lead.
“This confirms what we have heard from voters as David crisscrosses the state: David Trone has the momentum in the race for the United States Senate because voters in Baltimore and across Maryland are responding to David’s commitment to change the status quo in Washington and get PAC and lobbyist money out of our politics,” Trone campaign spokesman Joe Bowen said in a statement.
Trone, meanwhile, scored endorsements from some national Democratic heavyweights this week.
Trone now has the backing of the top three Democrats in the U.S. House of Representatives: U.S. Rep. Hakeem Jeffries of New York, the House Democratic leader; U.S. Rep. Katherine Clark of Massachusetts, the House Democratic whip; and U.S. Rep. Pete Aguilar of California, the House Democratic Caucus party chair.
“From the moment he arrived in the House of Representatives, David Trone has been a consistent and valued partner in the effort to fix our broken criminal justice system, eliminate re-entry barriers for returning citizens and root out systemic racism,” Jeffries said in a statement released by the Trone campaign. “Congressman Trone has also worked hard to create new manufacturing and tech jobs in the parts of Maryland all too often left behind.”
Trone has racked up dozens of endorsements from his colleagues in Congress from around the country, while Alsobrooks has locked up support from many leaders within Maryland, among them: Gov. Wes Moore, U.S. Sen. Chris Van Hollen and U.S. Reps. Steny Hoyer, Glenn Ivey and Kweisi Mfume.
Trone and Alsobrooks are among the candidates vying to succeed U.S. Sen. Ben Cardin, who opted not to run for reelection in 2024.
The primary election starts with an early voting period beginning May 2 and concludes with traditional Election Day voting May 14.
Baltimore Banner reporter Emily Sullivan contributed to this article.