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By Julianne Malveaux —

Angela Alsobrooks, the Prince George’s County Executive, is an energetic, knowledgeable public servant. An attorney, mom, and activist, she led Maryland’s largest county through the pandemic, providing much-needed assistance for needy citizens. Prince George’s County (PGC) is a heavily Black area next to Washington, DC. It is also one of the wealthiest counties for Black people. Some of us jokingly call it “Ward 9” because of its proximity to DC (which has eight wards) and because so many DC influentials live there. Angela is one of three Black women running for Democratic seats in the United States Senate in 2024 (Barbara Lee in California and Lisa Blunt Rochester in Delaware), and her main opponent in the Democratic primary is Democratic congressman and billionaire David Trone, who has three congressional terms and a liquor empire to his name.

Trone (D) once said, “I’m willing to spend a lot more money than anybody else.” He’s done it before, spending more than ten million dollars on each of his congressional races. So far in the Senate race, Trone has spent $9.8 million of his own money. Alsobrooks, with a far more modest portfolio, has raised $3.3 million. She has fifteen times more individual donors than Trone, who says he won’t take PAC money and only wants small contributions. His willingness to spend more money than anyone else reflects the arrogance of wealth. It means he can buy anything, even a Senate seat.

Trone says his self-financed campaign means says it means he is not beholden to political action committees or other external financing organizations. It also means he is not accountable to anyone. While some of his work in Congress suggests that he might support good programs, like second chance legislation for ex-offenders,

Self-financing also means he is free to support the interests of the wealthy, especially around taxation and income distribution.

Trone’s decision to self-finance his campaign highlights his commitment to focusing solely on the needs of his constituents without the influence of external financial organizations. By refusing PAC money, he aims to ensure that his policies and decisions are shaped solely by the interests of the people he represents. Trone has used his considerable wealth to support causes like his alma mater, Furman University, and cultural concerns like the Baltimore Symphony. But he has also supported Republican extremists who oppose a woman’s right to choose. That ought to be a non-starter in blue Maryland, but Trone has enlisted some popular Democrats to support him.

Chicago congressman Jonathan Jackson (D) has a cable commercial running ad nauseam. While Jackson should not support Alsobrooks only because she is a Black woman who would add to Senate diversity and expertise, if he is true to the mission of his dad’s Rainbow Coalition, Alsobrooks should be an easy choice. Similarly, House Minority Leader New York’s Hakeem Jeffries endorsed Trone on December 18, a lump in Alsobrooks holiday stocking. While most Maryland congressional Democrats and Governor Wes Moore support Alsobrooks, the highest ranking Democrat in the House chose to oppose the endorsement of most of his Maryland members to curry to a liquor magnate

Many Alsobrooks supporters are, at best, disappointed by Jackson and Jeffries. One has to wonder what kinds of incentives Trone offered to secure their endorsements. But the outcome of the Los Angeles mayoral race, where Mayor Karen Bass was outspent by a factor of ten by her billionaire opponent Rick Caruso, suggests that Trone’s money may not buy him a Senate seat. Alsobrooks has already visited each of Maryland’s 22 counties and Baltimore City (part of Baltimore County but with a separate governmental structure) and has support in every county. Trone has the cash and can rack up some endorsements, but votes tell the story at the end of the day.

This might be a local story, but for the disrespect that Trone has shown to Angela Alsobrooks and the growing trend of black women being forced to manage disrespect. Trone had the temerity to criticize Alsobrook’s “experience,” touting his thin Congressional record. It reminds me of Malcolm X saying, “The most disrespected person in America is the Black woman. The most unprotected, the most neglected person in America is the Black woman.

Also, Brooks is juggling challenging news and financial challenges. However, she is buoyed by Black women and men who support her expertise, intelligence, and accomplishments. Can you buy a Senate seat? Not when millions of voters say “no.”

Dr. Julianne Malveaux

Dr. Julianne Malveaux is a member of the National African American Reparations Commission (NAARC), an economist, author and Dean of the College of Ethnic Studies at California State University at Los Angeles.