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Republicans advance Senate candidates in West Virginia, Maryland


Former Maryland Governor Larry Hogan celebrates after the Hogan for Maryland Primary Night Victory Party, Tuesday, May 14, 2024, in Annapolis, Md.
Former Maryland Governor Larry Hogan celebrates after the Hogan for Maryland Primary Night Victory Party, Tuesday, May 14, 2024, in Annapolis, Md.

Republican voters advanced strong Senate contenders in Maryland and West Virginia on Tuesday, giving the party a big boost in its push to claim control of Congress' upper chamber.

Former Governor Larry Hogan claimed the Republican nomination in what will be a marquee race in Maryland against Angela Alsobrooks, a top local official who could become the fourth Black woman in U.S. history to serve in the Senate.

Meanwhile, another popular Republican, Governor Jim Justice, won the Senate nomination in deep-red West Virginia, becoming the overwhelming favorite in the race that represents the Republicans' best pickup opportunity in the nation.

In both states, which share a border but feature antithetical politics, the Republican nominees represent a serious challenge for Democrats in the general election as they cling to a 51-49 Senate majority and defend seats in other states that former President Donald Trump won four years ago.

At the same time, Trump and Democratic President Joe Biden sought to project strength in low-stakes presidential primaries. And further down the ballot, two people who were on opposite sides of the Jan. 6 insurrection lost their U.S. House bids — a former Capitol Police officer running in Maryland and a former West Virginia state lawmaker who participated in the riot.

In all, three states hosted statewide primary elections Tuesday — Maryland, Nebraska and West Virginia — as Republicans and Democrats picked their nominees for a slate of November elections that will decide the presidency and control of Congress.


In Maryland, Hogan gives Republicans a legitimate chance at picking up a Senate seat in the deep-blue state for the first time in more than four decades.

Hogan overcame his years-long criticism of Trump, a position that put him at odds with many Republican primary voters but will undoubtedly help him in the general election this fall. Maryland voters gave Biden a 33-point victory over Trump four years ago.

On the other side in the Senate contest, Democratic voters nominated Alsobrooks, the top official in Prince George's County outside of Washington. The 53-year-old African American county executive had been endorsed by many of the state’s top officials, including Governor Wes Moore, Senator Chris Van Hollen and U.S. Representative Steny Hoyer.

Alsobrooks prevailed after a contentious and expensive primary against U.S. Representative David Trone, a liquor store magnate who had invested more than $61 million into his unsuccessful bid.

Race was an issue in the Democratic primary and may be in the general election in the months ahead. Alsobrooks is trying to become the first Black senator from a state in which roughly one in three residents identifies as African American.

On the social media site X, Hogan congratulated Alsobrooks and said, “Voters have a clear and stark choice: more of the dysfunctional partisan status quo or real independent and bipartisan leadership.”

Alsobrooks, also posting on X, promised to “defeat Larry Hogan, keep Maryland blue, and keep our Senate under Democratic control.”

West Virginia

Justice won his primary against U.S. Representative Alex Mooney in the race to replace Senator Joe Manchin. With Manchin gone, the seat is almost guaranteed to turn red come November.

Justice, a former billionaire with a folksy personality, is wildly popular in the state. He also earned Trump's endorsement. A former Democrat, Justice switched to the Republican Party in 2017, announcing the change at a Trump rally.

Mooney had tried to win over conservatives by labeling Justice as someone who would support Democratic policies. Justice did support Biden's bipartisan infrastructure law, saying West Virginia couldn't afford to turn away the money offered in the bill.

West Virginia is also deciding its candidates for governor. Attorney General Patrick Morrisey, the Republican nominee in the 2018 Senate race against Manchin, is running for the Republican nomination. He's up against former state Representative Moore Capito, whose mother is Senator Shelley Moore Capito.

Presidential primary

Biden and Trump have already amassed enough delegates to claim the presidential nominations at their respective national conventions this summer. Yet voters on both sides hope to register a significant protest vote Tuesday that will demonstrate their dissatisfaction with the Biden-Trump rematch.

Both Biden and Trump won their primaries in West Virginia and Maryland.

Still, Maryland progressives especially unhappy with the Biden administration's support for Israel in its war against Hamas had encouraged voters to select "uncommitted to any presidential candidate" instead of Biden. There was no uncommitted option in West Virginia or Nebraska.

Everett Bellamy, a Democrat who voted early in Annapolis, said he voted "uncommitted" instead of Biden as a protest against the killing of women and children and noncombatants in Gaza.

Meanwhile, Trump's Republican critics cannot choose "uncommitted," but they can choose his former Republican rival Nikki Haley, who will appear on the ballot in Maryland, Nebraska and West Virginia despite formally suspending her campaign more than two months ago.

Derek Faux, an independent voter from Charleston, West Virginia, said he supported Haley, and in other Republican races, he said he voted for the candidates he believed were least like Trump.

Capitol attack

Tuesday's elections also included two candidates who were intimately involved in the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the U.S. Capitol.

In Maryland, former Capitol Police officer Harry Dunn was among nearly two dozen Democrats running in the state’s 3rd Congressional District. The 40-year-old Democrat lost to State Senator Sarah Elfreth.

In West Virginia, a former member of the House of Delegates, Derrick Evans, lost his bid to oust incumbent Republican Representative Carol Miller in the 1st Congressional District.

The 39-year-old Evans served a three-month jail sentence after livestreaming himself participating in the storming of the U.S. Capitol.

Other key races

In Nebraska, Republican Senators Deb Fischer and Pete Ricketts both face nominal opposition in their primaries, one of the rare occasions when both senators in a state are on the ballot at the same time. And in Nebraska's 2nd Congressional District, Republican U.S. Representative Don Bacon faces a challenge from his right flank.

In North Carolina, voters finalized their pick of the Trump-endorsed Brad Knott in what had become a one-person Republican primary in the state's 13th Congressional District.