Q&A: Maryland Democratic Senate candidate Angela Alsobrooks

(Courtesy Angela Alsobrooks for Senate)

Angela Alsobrooks is in her second term as Prince George’s County executive. She’s running for the Democratic nomination for Senate.

Read the full story: Trone and Alsobrooks on issues facing Maryland and the Senate 

Listen to the full interview. The transcript below has been lightly edited for clarity. 

Maryland Democratic Senate candidate Angela Alsobrooks

John Domen: What’s the most notable policy difference between you and your opponent here?

Angela Alsobrooks: I think our record on choice … Probably the most notable difference is that I have never compromised my values where choice is concerned. And it is the case that Congressman Trone has given hundreds of thousands of dollars, both in his personal capacity, as well as through his business, to some of the most radical Republicans who have passed very restrictive anti-choice policies across the country, people like Greg Abbott in Texas and Ken Paxton, the attorney general in Texas, as well as Brian Kemp in Georgia. This is an issue that is of great concern to me, other women and families across the country — especially someone like me, I have an 18-year-old daughter. And I want to make sure that we have in the Senate, a person who will fight vigorously, not only for abortion care rights, but reproductive freedom. This is a very personal issue for me.

John Domen: So you are both running to replace Ben Cardin, who right now chairs the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. The biggest foreign relations issue going on right now, obviously, between the Palestinians and the Israelis. Do you think they really want a two-state solution? And if so, what’s prevented that from happening? And to what extent can the U.S. sort of influence a peaceful resolution over there?

Angela Alsobrooks: You know, I think that this has been a situation, first of all, of great complexity. We are in a moment now where we are really very hopeful that we can, first of all, get the hostages returned. And second of all, get to an immediate cease-fire. We have so many concerns regarding the extreme need for humanitarian aid to get into Gaza right now and to stop the killing of civilians. I think we also are in need of a two-state solution, the two-state solution that would allow us for peace and security for Israelis and peace, security and self-determination for the Palestinians in Gaza: two states for two people. This is also supported by President Biden. I agree with him on this. And we’ll be working to make sure that we support heavily and that we work to make sure that the two-state solution becomes a reality.

John Domen: Staying on that issue: There’s been a lot of protests about that, whether it’s downtown, really all across the country. It’s also causing division within the Democratic Party. So where do you stand on those protests, from the tone of them to the tactics being used by those who demonstrate? And how do you think leaders should be responding to what’s happening with those demonstrations?

Angela Alsobrooks: I’m the mother of a college student. I have a daughter who is on a college campus at this moment, who is 18 years old. And I agree, I’m sure, with every parent … that we believe that there is no place for hate on any campus … nor should we see assaultive behavior. Our kids should not feel fearful. And so antisemitism should never be tolerated in any place, nor should Islamophobia or hate of any kind. There should be no safe space for that to happen, and our kids deserve to be safe on these campuses. I also believe that peaceful protest is part of what makes our country … It is a right that is respected in our country and that our children have the right to express their opinions, even those opinions that are in opposition. But again, peaceful protest I support. I do not support hate of any kind, and nor do I support assaults or intimidation.

John Domen: TikTok is a pretty popular app among younger generations. If your daughter doesn’t use it, I’m sure she knows people who do. But its parent company is also highly influenced by the Chinese government. And so should TikTok be forced to be sold to a company that’s not overseen by an adversarial government? Or be forced to shut down? Where do you stand on that?

Angela Alsobrooks: I know the House has already taken up a position … Congress is taking a position to give us a little more time to make sure the divestment happens. I’m encouraged by that … I know that there are a thoughtful kind of processes in place to make sure that we make the divestment happen. I think that’s going to be important. We don’t want to have the undue influence that we’ve seen in China over TikTok. And at the same time, I know that TikTok is a forum that has been used by many of our children, not only to be able to communicate and learn, but businesses have also thrived using TikTok. So I hope that there’s a way that we can both make it safe and make the divestment happen and to allow for the forum to exist where people are able to communicate freely.

John Domen: One of things you’ve been campaigning on is a willingness to end the Senate filibuster? Do you worry, though, that a slim GOP majority would then use sort of that same precedent to pass laws that you would be fighting against in the Senate, you know, a national abortion ban, for instance, or any other progressive gains that have sort of been made over the last 15-20 years? All of that could potentially be a risk, right?

Angela Alsobrooks: I totally support eliminating the filibuster. The filibuster has been used — weaponized, even — over the last at least decade to block important legislation, including civil rights legislation. It is a real impediment to common sense legislation around gun safety. It is something that we’re concerned about in so many aspects — LGBTQ rights — there are a number of places where I believe the filibuster is a real impediment. And so I support eliminating the filibuster. If you look at the facts, between 1954 and 1965, we use the filibuster I believe about nine times. If you look at it from 2009 to 2014, it was used over 600 times. So, it is growing now in terms of its use in a way that has weaponized against the rights and freedoms of Americans. And I support eliminating it.

John Domen: Do you worry that those rights could end up being taken away?

Angela Alsobrooks: That, so far, has not been the history. The history is that the filibuster has been used to block the kinds of legislation that would provide more freedoms. And so it’s something that we’d have to look at how it’s done. But I support eliminating it and, at the at the very least, reforming the filibuster.

John Domen: As a county leader, when it comes to budget, you know that the economy statewide has been pretty flat the last few years. Revenues have not been keeping up with a lot of the increase in cost of maintaining government services. So what can you do to help the state’s economy from Capitol Hill?

Angela Alsobrooks: I grew up in a working-class family. You know, I’m the daughter of a receptionist and a newspaper distributor. And so I recognize the pain that families are feeling right now at the cash register. I see it for myself, when I go to the grocery store. We see $9 grapes, $12 grapes, I mean, it is just a really difficult time for families. And I hear it over and over again, the concern around affordable housing — these are real issues for families. And the point is I would continue working as I have done to not only attract important dollars and bring them back to Maryland. I’ve done this in the case of attracting the national FBI headquarters here. We have attracted a combination of funding that allowed us to bring about $100 million in just the last two years to the New Carrollton Metro. I’ll continue working with Gov. (Wes) Moore, working with Sen. (Chris) Van Hollen and others, to bring back the important infrastructure dollars that will help us to grow our economy, and to grow jobs, to bring jobs to grow income — this is really the most important, I believe, priority that we have at this moment — is economic opportunity for our state. I have experience doing this, which is what I think is distinguishes me in this race from my opponent. I know not only what to vote for, but I know how to implement once we get those dollars back. I have built schools; I have built business; I have grown jobs; I have built hospitals. So the implementation of this is what I will also bring to Maryland — is not just bringing back those dollars, but actually converting the dollars to real infrastructure in a way that will grow jobs and in our economy across Maryland.

John Domen: There’s a lot of frustration among Americans all over the place, a general malaise, that the system doesn’t work for them. Do you agree with that? Or is the system just not working for enough people?

Angela Alsobrooks: When you say system, what do you mean?

John Domen: Whether it’s government, the economy, everything that sort of guides everyday life.

Angela Alsobrooks: You know, my concern is when we look at things like the corporate tax rate, that big corporations pay fewer taxes than hardworking Americans. This worries me. It is the kind of thing that I will tackle as a senator, is to raise the corporate tax rate to allow again for there to be not only more equity, but to allow the economy to grow in a way that benefits more people in the middle, more middle-class Americans. And so I understand the feeling that there is inequity and unfairness, not only where the economy is concerned, but we see that health care access is a challenge for so many. We see places where we have things like food deserts, where it’s difficult to even have access to healthy foods. That schools — that your ZIP code determines the quality of the education that you receive. These are the issues that everyday families grapple with. And they are ones that I am well familiar with because I have been close to the people. As an executive, I believe that the people closest to the pain are therefore closest to the solutions. That’s where I come in. I understand this feeling that the system is not working, and people are not wrong about it. Again, if you look at this, the corporate tax rate, the fact that big corporations, these greedy corporations, continue to get fat off profits while the people suffer. And you know, the supply chain issues have resolved themselves, but they still continue to raise prices on groceries. So yeah, I’ll be fighting for everyday families. And I think that it’s important to elect people who not only know how to get those results, but who understand and share the cares and concerns of everyday hardworking people. I have both the experience to deliver and a real empathy and understanding of the cares and concerns of everyday, hardworking families.

John Domen: Last one for me. You’ve argued throughout this campaign since last year, but it’s important that a Republican not win this seat in November. The primary has gotten pretty negative. Internal polls show that it’s very tight race between now and next week. If your opponent ends up winning, how much are you willing to do to help them win the seat in November.

Angela Alsobrooks: I’m a Democrat through and through, and I will work to make sure a Democrat — and I believe it’s going to be me — will be elected to this seat in the general election. I have worked for the Democratic Party for most of my life. I started as a Congressional Black Caucus intern in 1992. I have attended conventions throughout the decades. I have volunteered through the Democratic Committee and I am a Democrat through and through, and I believe in the Democratic Party. I believe that our policies are in the best interests of America right now. That we’re the only party that keeps people first, and I’ll continue fighting to make sure first, that we retain the seat, that the Democrats retain the majority in the Senate. I believe it will be me because of the grassroots coalition that we have developed all across this state. I have developed a coalition that will help us not only to be successful in this primary election. But I also have the people to be successful in the general election. And I believe, again, I’m the person also to beat Larry Hogan in the general election because there has not been a single poll after $57 million that David Trone has spent, there has not been a single poll that has shown him ahead of Hogan. And so I will not only have the people in the general election, but will have the resources to beat Larry Hogan as well.

John Domen: But if it doesn’t come to that, are you willing to campaign for Trone?

Angela Alsobrooks: I’m willing to support, yes. I will support, if he is successful. I will support him in the general election.

Get breaking news and daily headlines delivered to your email inbox by signing up here.

© 2024 WTOP. All Rights Reserved. This website is not intended for users located within the European Economic Area.

Federal News Network Logo
Log in to your WTOP account for notifications and alerts customized for you.

Sign up