In the 2024 Md. Senate race, the Democrat with the most votes last year isn’t favored to win?

Conventional wisdom hasn’t yet been set in stone, but it is hardening when it comes to the race for the U.S. Senate seat that Maryland’s Ben Cardin is stepping down from next year.

Those watching the Democratic primary see U.S. Rep. David Trone has the most money to spend. Since announcing last week, Prince George’s County Executive Angela Alsobrooks has come out of the gate strong, racking up endorsements around the state, including from well-known leaders in other counties.

In the weeks to come, U.S. Rep. Jamie Raskin, who gained major name recognition for House impeachment hearings during the Trump Administration, is also set to decide if he’ll run as well. He also might remain in the House of Representatives where he’s already gained a leadership role.

Though he’s not favored to win, Montgomery County at-large councilman Will Jawando got more votes, by sheer numbers, than Alsobrooks, Trone and Raskin in their respective November 2022 elections.

“I actually represent over a million people. We have 1.1 million in the county,” Jawando said. “Been twice elected as one of the top vote-getters, and so I actually represent more people than anyone in the race, funny enough.”

Jawando is a native of Silver Spring now living in Sandy Spring and was a civil rights attorney, congressional staffer, and White House aide prior to getting elected to the county council. He argues that this isn’t a race that can be bought, and downplayed the endorsements that Alsobrooks has received so far.

“It’s going to be about people voting,” he said, as he pushed what is an unabashedly progressive platform in the race for Senate.

“People want bold, progressive vision,” Jawando said. “They don’t just want someone who is going to go there and do the status quo. It’s not working.”

He cited civil rights, reproductive freedom and gun violence as stances he’s focused on, and he argues the U.S. Senate is a “body that needs to be pushed” to do more to help people.

“They want the federal role to be more robust in those areas, and it just hasn’t been,” he argued.

And specifically on gun violence, Jawando said, “People want to see action on that at the federal level.”

At the same time, he also noted that in his past career on Capitol Hill, he had worked with Republican staffers working for members who didn’t share his vision. Despite differences, he said he could still help get things accomplished, and admitted that sometimes progress needs to come incrementally, not all at once.

As he recited aspects of his stump speech, Jawando repeatedly referenced what he called “the big lie,” which in recent years has been a term that Democrats have used to refer to the idea that the 2020 election was stolen from former President Donald Trump. But for Jawando, it has a different meaning.

“The big lie is not about Donald Trump and his allusions that he won the election. Obviously he didn’t,” Jawando said. “It’s about what I think is the core problem in America and Maryland right now. That if my neighbor gets something or does well or we help them then my life has to be diminished and that’s a lie. It’s never been true. It’s something that’s been told throughout our history, and I think it’s holding us back.”

In terms of campaign infrastructure, Jawando’s campaign may not be as built out as other campaigns, but with nearly 365 days before the senate primary, he said most Marylanders aren’t paying attention to the race anyway.

“When they are focused, we will have built an organization, built the resources and the campaign to communicate what I think will be the boldest, clearest vision about how to move Maryland forward and solve the problems people are facing in a way that achieves shared prosperity.”

Since it’s still early, there’s one name still hanging over this race: Raskin. His TV appearances and job as one of the chief antagonists to Republicans in the nation’s capital have made him popular among Democrats paying attention to the race. Jawando happens to live in Raskin’s district. There are already whispers that if Raskin jumps into the race, Jawando might drop out of the Senate race and run for Raskin’s House seat.

“We have three people in the race right now. That’s the race I’m focused on. One thing I learned a long time ago in politics is you have to adjust when things happen and take things as they come,” Jawando said. “So much is going to happen in this campaign … things you didn’t even expect.”

As he went on, Jawando noted he was an early endorser of Maryland Gov. Wes Moore, speaking out at a time when Moore was way down in the polls.

“There were a lot more well known people at the time. I’m actually in a better position than the governor was,” he said. “I think we have a strong path to victory and as the campaign goes on time will show that.

“In this media market, when I do something here, I’m on TV in Bowie, too,” he continued, arguing he has some name recognition in places like Prince George’s County even if he’s not elected there.

He finished his response by saying, “Congressman Raskin is my congressman, a great friend … he’s got to make his own decision. But I’m focused on this race.”

When it was pointed out that Jawando never said “no” he wouldn’t run for a House seat instead, he laughed and said, “You also didn’t get a yes.”

John Domen

John started working at WTOP in 2016 after having grown up in Maryland listening to the station as a child. While he got his on-air start at small stations in Pennsylvania and Delaware, he's spent most of his career in the D.C. area, having been heard on several local stations before coming to WTOP.

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

Sign up