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DC, the CoreLocal Politics - DC-Maryland-Virginia

Spoke out of Turn, Kicked out of Race

Posted May 22, 2024 at 5:00 PM EDT
This election cycle, why is Maryland, a traditionally deep blue state, becoming a focus for the media? Despite pouring over $60 million of his personal fortune into his Senate campaign, David Trone lost. What did he do wrong? To win the general election in November, which voter groups do you need to ensure you don't offend?

Maryland is one of the states closest to DC, yet its elections seldom earn the spotlight. Maryland is a state dominated by Democrats, and most of its election results are quite predictable. But this year is different. Maryland’s primary election last week captured national media attention.

Larry Hogan, the popular former governor and a moderate Republican, has returned to the political arena, vying for the Senate. If elected, Hogan would be a Republican Senator in this blue state. The outcome could also help flip the Senate from blue to red.

Maryland’s primary election is based on party affiliations. Hogan easily won the Republican nomination. However, the Senate Democratic race, which determined who would face Hogan, attracted even more attention.

Leading various polls ahead of the election was David Trone, the incumbent House Representative for Maryland’s 6th Congressional District. Rep. Trone, a Democrat, co-owns the largest wine retailer in the country and has been serving in the House since 2018. Over a year ago, Trone announced his Senate candidacy to succeed Ben Cardin, who will retire after the current session.

Trone invested heavily in the election, literally pouring money into the race. Even though it was just a primary election within the Democratic Party, Trone spent around $61 million of his personal fortune on his campaign, garnering a little over 260,000 votes. This amounts to approximately $240 per vote.

Nevertheless, he lost the race by almost a dozen percent margin to Angela Alsobrooks, the Prince’s George’s County Executive and a Black female politician.

Trone is pretty popular among Asian American community in Maryland. He frequently attends events held by various AAPI organizations. Quite a few AAPI voters strongly support him per our reporting and they were confused about his loss.

In short, he spoke out of turn, offending two crucial groups of voters.

In March, during a congressional budget hearing, Trone used a racial slur to criticize a Black Republican, suggesting she lacked business operating experience and didn't understand the genuine impact of tax rates. Here's the quote:

“So this Republican jigaboo that it’s the tax rate that’s stopping business investment, it’s just completely faulty by people who have never run a business…They’ve never been there. They don’t have a clue what they’re talking about.”

The word starting with J is one of the derogatory terms used to caricature Black people. Trone later apologized, claiming he used it accidentally in the heat of the moment. He said he meant to say "bugaboo" but misspoke and used an offensive term instead. However, "bugaboo" isn't appropriate either and doesn't fit the context. Trone's explanation only made things worse.

It deeply hurt Black voters emotionally. Black voters make up about 33% of all eligible voters in Maryland, a significant share nationwide. Losing their support would be a major setback for Trone.

As the primary election approached, an issue arose in one of Trone’s political ads. In the ad, a local lawmaker who endorsed Trone argued that the “U.S. Senate is not a place for training wheels,” implying that Trone's leading opponent, Alsobrooks, lacked experience in Congress. This comment sparked a letter from over 650 Black women, criticizing it as not only racist but also echoing tones of misogyny.

Even though Trone’s campaign team removed the phrase “training wheels” from the ad, he lost favor with some female voters.

People of color, minority ethnicities, and women are crucial groups that candidates from both parties invest heavily in to galvanize votes. While attending our community events is necessary for engagement, what is more important for us is the respect we deserve.

We believe that only with genuine respect can a political candidate truly consider our concerns and care about our real interests. This is more important than their shallow interactions. Otherwise, even big money can't buy our love.

The outcome of Maryland’s primary election underscored an important lesson from Black voters: the pivotal power of votes from people of color, which can serve as a game-changer in certain situations. Therefore, we once again urge the AAPI community to value each vote and make informed decisions when electing our representatives rather than settling for representation without clear intent.

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