Angela Alsobrooks claps with Maryland Sen. Chris Van Hollen
Angela Alsobrooks claps with Maryland Sen. Chris Van HollenBill Clark/CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty Images

David Trone, the congressman and liquor store mogul who has given generously to pro-Israel causes, lost his bid for the Democratic Senate nomination in Maryland to Angela Alsobrooks, a popular municipal leader who has the backing of J Street, the liberal Israel lobby.

Media outlets called the race for Alsobrooks, the executive of Prince George’s County, on Tuesday evening at around 10 p.m. Calls were also made in House primary races closely watched by the state’s Jewish community, including one in which a candidate favored by an AIPAC-linked super PAC emerged victorious.

In one of the costliest Senate primary races in U.S. history, Trone spent at least $62 million of his own money and did not accept money from political action committees, including those associated with the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC), although he has donated generously to the lobby.

He is among the lobby’s “minyan” donors who last year pledged to AIPAC at least $100,000. Trone’s wife and children are Jewish and he often cites them as one of the reasons he gives to pro-Israel causes.

There was common ground between the two candidates on Israel: Both Trone and Alsobrooks broadly back President Joe Biden’s support for Israel in its war on Hamas in Gaza, but Alsobrooks has been more critical of the war effort.

In a Washington Post Q and A last Friday, Alsobrooks opposed Israel’s entry into Rafah, a city on Gaza’s border with Egypt that is packed with hundreds of thousands of displaced Gazans as well as Hamas’ remaining battalions, alarming some prominent pro-Israel donors in the state. Trone did not echo that criticism.

Alsobrooks now faces Larry Hogan, the popular former Republican governor of the state who won the GOP Senate primary. Whoever wins the race will replace the retiring Sen. Ben Cardin, a Democratic Jewish pro-Israel mainstay, and serve alongside Maryland’s other senator, Democrat Chris Van Hollen.

Hogan has said he will make an issue of Van Hollen’s outspoken Israel criticism. He will likely seek to associate Alsobrooks closely with Van Hollen, who has endorsed her and campaigned with her, in a bid to peel away Jewish voters.

In Maryland’s 3rd District, Sarah Elfreth, a state senator, bested Harry Dunn, a policeman who physically battled with rioters during the Jan. 6, 2021 Capitol riot.

AIPAC’s affiliated super PAC, United Democracy Project, dumped more than $4 million into the race on Elfreth’s behalf, ostensibly to keep out Israel-critical candidates who had a slim chance of winning. Dunn, whose views on Israel were identical to Elfreth’s, accepted J Street’s endorsement and has depicted UDP as a front for wealthy Republican donors who want to meddle in Democratic races.

AIPAC in its statement congratulating Elfreth sought to refute claims that it is alienating progressives.

“Sarah Elfreth’s victory underscores that it is entirely consistent with progressive values to stand with the Jewish state as it battles aggression from the Iranian regime and its terrorist proxies,” it said. “Activists from the pro-Israel community were actively engaged in supporting her campaign.”

In Maryland’s 6th District, currently represented by Trone, April McLain Delaney, the wife of John Delaney, a moderate Democrat who once held the seat, defeated Joe Vogel, a 27-year-old progressive who has already made a name for himself in the state legislature.

There were also primary races in West Virginia and Nebraska. In both states, candidates affiliated with the GOP’s far-right Freedom Caucus collapsed when facing incumbent moderate Republican Reps. Don Bacon of Nebraska and Carol Miller of West Virginia.

The Republican Jewish Coalition, which recently named Freedom Caucus lawmakers as targets for voting against funding for Israel, heralded the wins by Bacon and Miller, whom it had endorsed, as a triumph for moderate Republicans. It singled out in a statement the caucus’s chairman, Virginia Rep. Bob Good, whom it is also opposing in a primary.

“Republican voters in West Virginia and Nebraska soundly rejected extremist candidates and supported RJC-endorsed Representatives Carol Miller and Don Bacon,” it said. “These results spell big trouble for the likes of Congressman Bob Good, who supported both of the losing candidates.”