Steny Hoyer was one of Angela Alsobrooks’ earliest supporters in her Senate bid. How does he think she’ll do against Hogan?

For all the latest developments in Congress, follow WTOP Capitol Hill correspondent Mitchell Miller at Today on the Hill.

Prince George’s County Executive Angela Alsobrooks faced a lot of hurdles in her race against Rep. David Trone for the Democratic nomination for U.S. Senate in Maryland.

First, of course, were Trone’s deep pockets — he spent more than $60 million on the campaign, making it the most expensive primary in the nation’s history.

Also, early polls showed her well behind and suggested many voters statewide were unfamiliar with her.

But Rep. Steny Hoyer, D-Md., who was one of her earliest and most prominent supporters, said he could see the campaign begin to transform in the final months before Tuesday’s primary.

“She was escalating all along — the ground game,” Hoyer said this week in an interview with WTOP at his Capitol Hill office. “The crowds kept growing … and polls followed.”

Hoyer sensed Alsobrooks was gaining momentum and that was reflected in an Emerson College poll released shortly before the primary that showed the two candidates in a virtual dead heat.

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Hoyer, who’s seen a lot of political races in his decades in politics, said of her campaign, “They caught it on the upswing.”

The Democratic lawmaker said he was surprised by the margin of victory over Trone — close to 10 percentage points — but not that Alsobrooks won.

Alsobrooks vs. Hogan

Hoyer believes Alsobrooks is now in a strong position to take on Republican Larry Hogan, the popular former governor who easily won the GOP Senate nomination.

He said there is no doubt that she is now poised to get major funding from the campaign arm of the national Democratic Party.

“She’s going to get national Democratic Party money because we need to hold the Senate, for the country’s sake,” Hoyer said.

Democrats have a narrow, 51-49 majority in the Senate and Maryland is normally a state that’s not in play, when it comes to trying to flip its seat in the upper chamber. A Republican hasn’t been elected to the Senate from Maryland in more than four decades.

Maryland has also never elected a Black woman to the Senate before.

Hoyer said Alsobrooks is ready to make history. Only two other Black women have been elected to the Senate. (Current U.S. Sen. Laphonza Butler, D-Calif., was appointed by California Gov. Gavin Newsom and will not be seeking election this fall.)

“We’re a state that’s about a third African American,” Hoyer said. “That’s going to be a very powerful draw.”

Still, Hogan served two terms as governor, winning twice in a state where registered Democrats outnumber Republicans by about 2-to-1.

The Senate’s top Republican, Mitch McConnell, has made it clear Hogan will be getting financial support from the GOP.

Abortion rights

Members of both parties believe abortion rights will be a prominent issue in the general election.

Hogan has sought to preempt criticism from Alsobrooks. She has said that he will undermine abortion rights if elected to the Senate.

He said he was “pro choice” in an interview this week with The New York Times.

Hoyer said he understands what Hogan is trying to do, but doesn’t believe it will fly with many Democrats.

“He knows that’s a vulnerability,” Hoyer said, noting that Hogan will be pressed on the issue throughout the campaign.

“It’s an overwhelmingly positive issue for us,” he said of Democrats. “People agree with our position that it’s a woman’s right to choose.”

Also, while Hogan has been a sharp critic of former President Donald Trump, Hoyer said he will have to deal with the fact that many Republicans strongly support the former president.

What about control of the US House?

While Republicans are generally considered to have the edge when it comes to retaking the Senate, the outlook for the House of Representatives is less clear.

Republicans currently hold the smallest majority in modern history, which House Speaker Mike Johnson often notes as he struggles to get legislation passed.

Hoyer said he believes the divisions within the GOP will make it more difficult for them to hold onto the House.

“Republicans are in charge — it’s the most dysfunctional, ineffective Congress that I’ve served in since 1981,” Hoyer said. “If ability to govern in a positive way is anywhere close to a criterion, the Republicans are not going to be in charge because they have been so lacking in ability to do things, without substantial Democratic help.”

As for the presidential race, Hoyer said he’s encouraged by President Joe Biden’s decision to challenge Trump to debates.

“I think it reflects his confidence,” Hoyer said.

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Mitchell Miller

Mitchell Miller has worked at WTOP since 1996, as a producer, editor, reporter and Senior News Director. After working "behind the scenes," coordinating coverage and reporter coverage for years, Mitchell moved back to his first love -- reporting. He is now WTOP's Capitol Hill reporter.

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