As in-person voting approaches, the top Democratic candidates for Maryland’s open U.S. Senate seat are getting chippy over a new ad from David Trone that criticizes Angela Alsobrooks.

Trone’s 60-second ad debuted Saturday, featuring multiple Prince George’s County politicians calling out the shortcomings of Alsobrooks, their county executive.

“I see David doing things and I see Angela Alsobrooks, here in Prince George’s County, often not,” Derrick Leon Davis, a former county councilman, says in the ad.

Adds Edward Burroughs, a current councilman: “The U.S. Senate is not a place for training wheels.”

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State Sen. Joanne Benson, who has represented Prince George’s in Annapolis for more than three decades, says in the ad that Trone, as a member of Congress, has shown concern for senior citizens and homeless people. “The candidate that he is running against has not displayed that characteristic,” she says.

The ad represents the most serious negative turn in the Democratic primary, which had featured only positive ads for both candidates and modest criticism at forums and during the sole televised debate.

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Alsobrooks said in an interview that Trone has turned negative because he must believe he is behind. She noted that he’s spent more than $40 million “trying to buy a seat” in the Senate.

“The reason that he’s spending his money now trying to attack me is because he knows what we know, which is that we’re winning this race,” Alsobrooks said in an interview in Baltimore on Saturday.

Independent polling in recent months has shown Trone ahead of Alsobrooks, though her team released an internal poll showing her behind but within the margin of error, which they described as a statistical tie.

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Alsobrooks pointed to her own “vast coalition” of political endorsers and supporters across the state. This week, she posted an ad highlighting her high-profile backers, including Gov. Wes Moore and U.S. Sen. Chris Van Hollen.

U.S. Senate candidate Angela Alsobrooks, center, speaks at an "All in for Alsobrooks" rally at Woodberry Park in Baltimore on Saturday, April 27, 2024. She was joined by current and former elected officials from the Baltimore area, including Gov. Wes Moore, at left.
U.S. Senate candidate Angela Alsobrooks, center, told supporters at a rally in Baltimore on Saturday that her opponent is questioning her because he must think she's a formidable candidate. (Pamela Wood / The Baltimore Banner)

On Saturday, she held an “All in for Angela” rally in Baltimore’s Woodberry Park, featuring Moore and other elected officials from the region.

She reminded the crowd of Trone’s massive spending, without mentioning him by name.

“You know the question they’re asking now, it’s a question they’ve asked about a bunch: Are we tough enough? Is she tough enough to fight Larry Hogan? That’s what they’ve been asking: Is she tough enough?” Alsobrooks said. “Well, ask yourselves: What would you say about a person who spent $50 million to fight you? He thinks I’m a formidable candidate.”

Trone’s team responded by saying voters should hear from politicians who have worked with both candidates.

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“The elected officials featured in this ad have a unique perspective about the effectiveness of both candidates, and Maryland voters deserve to hear about the important differences between these candidates from those who know both candidates best,” Trone spokesperson Joe Bowen said.

Bowen also criticized Alsobrooks for “dishonest attacks,” including about Trone’s campaign donations to Republican officials. Trone has said they were necessary to advocate for his business, the national liquor store chain Total Wine & More.

He also noted there’s already negative advertising in the race, from a third party group called Fight Corporate Monopolies, which has aired ads calling Trone a “billionaire bully.”

One of Maryland’s U.S. Senate seats is open this election after longtime Sen. Ben Cardin, a Democrat, opted not to run for reelection.

The winner of the Democratic primary is likely to face Hogan, the popular two-term Republican former governor, in the fall general election.

Mail-in voting is underway, and in-person early voting begins Thursday. Traditional Election Day voting is May 14.

Pamela Wood covers Maryland politics and government. She previously reported for The Baltimore Sun, The Capital and other Maryland newspapers. A graduate of the University of Maryland, College Park, she lives in northern Anne Arundel County.

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