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Alsobrooks touts progressive pro-Israel credentials in her bid to succeed Sen. Cardin
The Prince George’s County executive is running against a longtime ally of Maryland’s Jewish community in the Senate primary
In Maryland politics, Rep. David Trone (D-MD) — a longtime donor to AIPAC whose wife and children are Jewish — is a known quantity when it comes to the state’s Jewish community.
His chief competitor in the state’s closely watched 2024 Senate primary, Prince George’s County Executive Angela Alsobrooks, is more of a newcomer to Jewish communal issues, coming from a county with only a small Jewish community.
In an interview with Jewish Insider last week, Alsobrooks, who is Black, praised the historic alliance between the Black and Jewish communities during the civil rights movement and pledged to stand alongside the Jewish community in fighting antisemitism.
“It was communicated to me very clearly [in life] the relationship between the Black community and the Jewish community and the sort of mutual obligation we had to continue to work as allies and friends,” Alsobrooks, 52, said of growing up in the 1970s.
Those shared values extend to “the friendship between the United States and Israel,” Alsobrooks added. “Those are values around democracy and freedom and peace and the rule of law.” She presented herself as a progressive who is also a steadfast backer of American support for Israel, echoing standard talking points from the mainstream pro-Israel community.
Alsobrooks was born and raised in Maryland, where her parents moved after her great-grandfather was murdered by a sheriff’s deputy in South Carolina. The single mother stressed to JI that the issues about which she cares — “safety, economic opportunity and jobs, access to health care” — are “not only issues of concern” to the “everyday hard-working people” in Prince George’s County, “but quite frankly [they] are issues that are at my own kitchen table.”
The line is an oblique swipe at Trone, the co-founder of the national chain Total Wine & More and one of the wealthiest members of Congress. Trone, who was first elected to Congress in 2018, raised only $108,000 in the second quarter of the year, opting instead to fund his own campaign with a $10 million personal loan. Alsobrooks raised $1.7 million in the two-month period after Sen. Ben Cardin (D-MD) announced his retirement in May. Will Jawando, a progressive Montgomery County councilmember running to the left of both Trone and Alsobrooks, brought in $519,000 in that period. The Democratic primary will take place on May 14, 2024.
“We need senators who understand the concerns and share the concerns of the people that they represent,” said Alsobrooks. She described her accomplishments as a two-term county executive and, previously, a two-term state’s attorney, as a “progressive record,” citing her focus on education, mental health care, affordable housing and economic justice.
“These are all issues that I believe resonate with the vast majority of families across Maryland,” said Alsobrooks.
She described a relationship with the local Jewish community that began when she was a prosecutor, and then as county executive, working with rabbis “who came out to assist us and to partner with our police department as we’ve been doing work in and around our community around safety and working against crime,” she explained.
Antisemitism in Maryland has risen dramatically, particularly in heavily Jewish Montgomery County, where several high-profile incidents at local schools, as well as a debate over a county-wide antisemitism measure, have set the Jewish community on high alert.
“It’s an affront, I think, to all of us to see it happening. I can tell you that I would be a really staunch — not only advocate, but be speaking out very loudly against antisemitism, and to be honest with you, all hate,” said Alsobrooks, who also pledged to “continue to work to build bridges and to provide support and to demand that people are held accountable.”
In recent years, Alsobrooks has built relationships with local synagogues and turned to the leadership of Jewish Community Relations Council of Greater Washington for guidance on Jewish issues. She traveled to Israel in 2019 on a delegation organized by the American Israel Education Foundation, a nonprofit associated with AIPAC.
“I was able to really experience firsthand and to see and to hear from so many there on the ground about the security challenges that Israel faces from day to day,” she recounted. “I have been reaffirmed in the really strong and steadfast belief that I have that Israel deserves to be able to defend itself, and I would be an ally and would be a friend in maintaining the U.S.-Israel relationship.”
For Alsobrooks, this means “to be in support of the funding that has been provided, to provide military assistance to Israel.”
“We know that there is a very real security threat that exists in Israel,” Alsobrooks said. “We know that Israel plays a very important role in … maintaining peace for that region.”
At its core, she said, America’s relationship with Israel is about shared values that she would work to strengthen.
“I’ll be open to to continuing to work in partnership with leaders in the Jewish community, as well as others in the Senate,” she said, “to make sure that we remain an ally, and that we do our part in ensuring that democracy reigns, that freedom reigns and that human rights are protected, along with Israel.”