By Tashi McQueen,
AFRO Political Writer,

By Deborah Bailey,
AFRO Contributing Editor,

Leaders from around the state of Maryland are vying for a senate seat set to be vacated by Sen. Ben Cardin next year.

Cardin has served the community as a political figure for over 56 years. 

“I think we’ll see who really has the staying power and a campaign for the United States Senate, but I’m pleased with the people that have expressed interest,” Cardin told the AFRO, prior to a small business roundtable on June 16. “I’m confident that— in the course of the campaign and knowing these candidates’ background— they understand the needs of Baltimore and understand what the United States senator could do to help our city.”

The AFRO spoke with some of the leading contenders for the seat ahead of what is sure to be a closely- watched election. 

Angela Alsobrooks was elected to serve as Prince George’s County Executive in 2018. Now she’s looking at serving residents across the state. (Courtesy photo)

Angela Alsobrooks 

Angela Alsobrooks has been the Prince George’s County Executive since 2018. Before this, she served as the Prince George’s County State’s Attorney from 2011 to 2018.

“I have been in leadership since I was in ninth grade,” said Alsobrooks. “I worked from treasurer to president of the student body and president of the Washington D.C. city-wide student government by the time I was a senior.”

Alsobrooks shared that her parents, James and Patricia Alsobrooks, were extremely influential in her life. 

“My biggest inspiration was my parents,” said Alsobrooks. “My mother, about 12 years ago, was diagnosed with cancer. At the time she was working as a receptionist for the D.C. Department of Parks and Recreation, and was taking chemotherapy.”

Alsobrooks told the AFRO that she learned to be mindful of the issues and concerns of everyday people by watching how her mother handled difficult situations.

“She never missed work, except to go get treatments— even though she was exhausted,” Alsobrooks recalls.

As a result of her mother’s hard perseverance, Alsobrooks said her work of helping Marylanders is led first by empathy and compassion. 

If elected, Alsobrooks would have a say in issues across the state of Maryland— but she is already talking about her plan for Baltimore City, specifically. 

Alsobrooks told the AFRO she’s looking to support Baltimore economically through affordable housing and transportation initiatives such as the Red Line, a planned east to west transit line.

“We want African Americans to have opportunities to see the cost of living come down— to have jobs,” said Alsobrooks. “I’ll make sure that we continue to make those investments.”

Investments are a big part of Alsobrooks agenda.

“As a prosecutor, I got to see firsthand, unfortunately, the misery that exists in courthouses in Maryland,” said Alsobrooks. “I could see the impact of the lack of investment in education, mental health care, addiction care and lack of job opportunities. I came to understand that crime grew because of the lack of investment.”

Alsobrooks has already been endorsed by Rep. Kweisi Mfume (D-MD-7), Baltimore City State’s Attorney Ivan Bates, Delegate Stephanie Smith (D-MD-45) and over 40 other community leaders across the state. 

“As county executive, we have opened for the first time an addictions care and mental health care facility in the county,” said Alsobrooks. “I have also invested very heavily in summer jobs for youth, creating 17,000 jobs, and invested in an area called the Blue Line corridor, where we have food deserts and a lack of amenities.”

If elected, Alsobrooks would be the first African-American senator to represent Maryland in the U.S. Senate, and the only woman senator currently serving the state. 

Robin Ficker believes he has what it takes to serve the state of Maryland. (Courtesy photo)

Robin Ficker

Ficker is a Republican candidate who served in the House of Delegates for Montgomery County from 1979 to 1982. He was a member of the Constitutional and Administrative Law Committee, Joint Committee on the Management of Public Funds and the Special Joint Committee on Vocational Rehabilitation.

“I’m all Maryland,” said Ficker. “I’m going to Washington to be a good representative of Maryland and bring prosperity and jobs to our state and make sure that our Chesapeake Bay is clean.”

According to his campaign website, he’s looking to “protect first and second amendment rights,” promote safer streets and bring well-paying jobs to Maryland.

When asked why voters should choose him, Ficker highlighted his contributions to Montgomery County, Md.

“I have placed 25 measures on the ballot over the years, collecting at least 10,000 signatures for each,” said Ficker. “These ballot measures have received over two and a half million votes, and they impose term limits on the county council and county executive, which got 70 percent of the vote.”

Ficker said he’s passed measures to limit property tax increases, forbid the construction or operation of garbage dumps in residential zones and banned the operation of a sewage trenching facility in a residential zone.

“I want to boost Baltimore. I’m familiar with Baltimore, I want to make Baltimore a sports town, bringing in an NBA team to Baltimore. I want to bring jobs to Baltimore through the CHIPS Act, which is a $53-billion new piece of legislation,” said Ficker. “It has resulted in manufacturing semiconductor plants in other parts of the United States. Arizona, Idaho, New York, Texas, North Carolina and Ohio. I want to bring a semiconductor CHIPS plant to Maryland, where people can earn $96 an hour building semiconductors.”

When asked whether he’d support the revived Red Line initiative, with some hesitation Ficker said he would, as it is a valuable resource to connect people with jobs and that’s what he desires to do in Baltimore.

Ficker lost his law license in 2022 due to years of misconduct complaints according to Maryland District Court documents beginning in 1990. When asked what he would do to ensure confidence that he will not continue this behavior in the Senate, he denied the legitimacy of the disbarment and pointed toward his successes instead.

Will Jawando, who currently serves on the Montgomery County Council, is looking to make a move to the US Senate. (Courtesy Montgomery County Council website)

Will Jawundo

Montgomery County Council Will Jawando is preparing to run for U.S. Senate seat in hopes of replacing the incumbent Ben Cardin.

“The residents of Montgomery County have taught me many things my entire life. We have worked together across racial differences, economic and class lines to grow this county as a place of opportunity for all. The diverse coalition we have built from the ground up in this county is the future for all of Maryland,” said Jawando.

Jawando quickly declare his interest in the U.S. Senate seat upon hearing that it will be left vacant with the retirement of Cardin, who’s term concludes in December 2024.

Jawando says that while he would be a first-time senator, it won’t be the first time he has walked the halls of the Senate and done business in the corridors of Congress.  As a legislative assistant for Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-Oh), Jawando feels he understands the federal legislative process from the ground up.

“I am the only candidate in the race for Maryland Senate so far with actual experience on the floor of the U.S. Senate,” Jawando said. “I won’t be coming to this position as a neophyte,” he added.

 Jawando also served the Obama Administration as Deputy Director of Strategic Partnerships and says there are plenty of friends across the state and nation that are still in government service that he calls on regularly.  

“I currently serve 1.1 million residents each day,” Jawando said. “That’s already close to 20 percent of Maryland’s population,” he added. 

Montgomery County has been recognized by several platforms for having the most diverse cities in the U.S. The city of Silver Spring was recognized by Wallethub as the most socioeconomically diverse city in the U.S. in its 2023 rankings. Jawando believes the work in attending to the needs of one of the state’s most diverse geographic regions gives him a leading edge in transitioning to serving the needs of residents across Maryland.  

“I serve [the] native-born and immigrants, young and old, Black, Brown, Asian and White, LGBTQ and heterosexual. I will continue to serve all of Maryland, as your U.S. Senator, as I do now each day,” said Jawando. 

Jawando was born in Silver Spring, Maryland to a Nigerian father and White Kansan mother. He claims his  bi-racial identity gives him an appreciation for the varied experiences life in America can bring. Jawando spent his youth in a low-income household and became committed to public service after witnessing the death of a friend in his adolescence due to gun violence.

David Trone says he will work to improve bipartisan collaboration if elected. (Courtesy of

David Trone

David Trone (D-MD) is a candidate in the growing field of contenders for the Maryland U.S. Senate seat that will be vacated next year. 

Trone is a current delegate in the U.S. House of Representatives for Maryland and co-owner of Bethesda, Md.-based store, Total Wines and More, 

He has supporters far and wide who say he knows his way around the halls of Congress and has been able to show up for his current constituents in key ways. After being elected to Congress in November of 2018, Trone landed a seat on the House Appropriations Committee, Joint Economic Committee, and the House Budget Committee.

In the words of entertainer Relly B, Trone truly knows “where the money resides.”

He is a moderate Democrat who has worked in Congress to successfully pass legislation on the opioid crisis through the Dispose Unused Medications and Opioid Prescriptions Act. 

“I came to Congress to pass legislation to end the opioid epidemic, and this bipartisan bill is an example of how we can work together in Washington to actually get something done,” Trone said.

Trone believes in working on both sides of the aisle to get things done on Capitol Hill, hence the Federal Prisons Accountability Act, which he introduced in June with co-sponsor, U.S. Representative Glenn “GT” Thompson (R-PA).

Recently Trone announced more than $25 million in community project funding for Frederick County.

According to Business Insider, Trone is one of the wealthiest members of Congress. The Congressperson self-funded $12 million in his race for the U.S. House of Representatives last year. 

As campaign season kicks off, he is actively connecting with voters in Prince George’s County. 

Tashi McQueen is a Report For America Corps Member.