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Ben Cardin touts Angela Alsobrooks as friend to the Jewish community in first campaign appearance

Lia Russell, The Baltimore Sun on

Published in News & Features

During their first joint campaign appearance since Angela Alsobrooks announced her campaign to succeed him, U.S. Sen. Ben Cardin on Monday touted the Prince George’s County executive, saying she was the best candidate to boost U.S.-Israel relations.

Cardin told a panel of Baltimore-area Jewish leaders that Alsobrooks would be the best choice to stand up for Jewish Marylanders against rising antisemitism and would support congressional efforts to promote peace in Gaza.

“I always talk about how Jewish values are my North Star,” said Cardin, listing his support for stricter gun control and advocacy for LGBTQ rights and reproductive freedom. “Angela represents, in my view, I think, the view of our community, and the right views on all those issues consistent with a Jewish background.”

The two spoke with nonprofit executives and religious leaders in Pikesville, a heavily Jewish enclave in Baltimore County, which twice voted for former Republican Gov. Larry Hogan. Those in attendance expressed support for both Cardin and Alsobrooks, but questioned how the candidate would work to stem rising antisemitism and address anti-war protests, which have divided college campuses and members of the Democratic Party.

Andrew Cushnir, the chief executive and president of the Associated Jewish Federation of Baltimore, said the days since the Oct. 7 Hamas attack “have been incredibly difficult” for both Jewish Baltimoreans and Jewish people around the world.

“We are in a kind of pain that most of us never knew we would be in in our lifetimes, at least not in this phase of our lifetimes,” he said. Others, like Rabbi Alex Salzberg of Towson University Hillel, said it was “unsettling” to watch the student body adopt a resolution urging the college administration to cease doing business with firms that operate in or do business with the Israeli government.

Alsobrooks previously told supporters in Turner Station that she supported a two-state solution, an “immediate” cease-fire between Israel and Hamas, and safe passage for workers delivering aid and food to starving civilians trapped in Gaza. In Pikesville, she reiterated those solutions, adding that Israel had a “right to defend itself” and praising President Joe Biden’s expansion of Holocaust education efforts.

As a Black woman born after the Civil Rights Movement, Alsobrooks said she was attuned to receiving threats similar to what Jewish people have reported in recent months, like swastikas painted on synagogues.


“On my way over here, I just received a photo,” she said. “Somebody put a bull’s-eye on my picture. So I know what it feels like.”

While Cardin, the chairman of the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations, has been a steady Israel ally, his fellow senator, Chris Van Hollen, has attracted both criticism and praise for accusing Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of suppressing efforts to extend humanitarian aid to people in Gaza.

Alsobrooks said she was “grateful” for Van Hollen’s support, though she said the two had “different positions” on Israel and did not elaborate.

“I had over 170 other elected officials throughout the state support me, which means we all have our own thoughts and opinions on things and it’s not required that we say precisely the same thing,” she said. “I think people know the difference between individuals.”

Other Democrats, like Sen. John Fetterman of Pennsylvania, have drawn ire from progressive critics for supporting Israel, which for years has enjoyed military and diplomatic support from U.S. politicians in both major political parties.

Hogan, hoping to capitalize on his past image as a bipartisan moderate, has portrayed himself as a centrist on topics like abortion and the Israel-Hamas war. At a campaign event in March, the former governor told attendees at a Potomac synagogue that he would be a “pro-Israel champion,” calling the country the United States’ “most important and closest ally.”


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