Frydenborg Holds His Own Against Alsobrooks in Baltimore Maryland U.S. Senate Democratic Primary Debate, but Will It Matter & Why Won’t Local Media Cover this Race Properly?

Country Executive Alsobrooks and one other candidate showed up with plenty of supporters and/or campaign staff, and somehow Frydenborg at times got as much applause as they did and was equally quoted by The Baltimore Sun as Alsobrooks, as of yet the only media outlet to cover the debate, which Trone skipped

Yes, I am using my own news website to promote my candidacy and ideas I am putting forth as a candidate for U.S. Senate for Maryland and I won’t apologize for it!

By Brian E. Frydenborg (Twitter @bfry1981, Threads @bfchugginalongLinkedInFacebook, Substack with exclusive informal content) March 19, 2024; see related March 6 article Maryland U.S. Democratic Primary Debate Raises Questions on Frontrunners’ & Party’s Readiness to Take on Hogan. Can Frydenborg Emerge As Third Option? and March 2 article Petty Feuding Between Trone and Alsobrooks Does Not Honor Ben Cardin’s Legacy. Vote for Me Instead! and see all of Brian’s Maryland U.S. Senate race coverage here; because of YOU, Real Context News surpassed one million content views on January 1, 2023but I still need your help, please keep sharing my work and consider also donating! Real Context News produces commissioned content for clients upon request at its discretion.

Angela Alsobrooks all the way on the left and Brian Frydenborg (me), second from right in the gray suit, at Saturday’s U.S. Senate Candidate Democratic Forum in Baltimore’s Charles Village neighborhood. (Kim Hairston/Staff/The Baltimore Sun)

SILVER SPRING—At a debate with a small audience—more people came to see Julia Ioffe interview CNN’s Jim Sciutto about his new book at Politics and Prose in Washington—at which Prince George’s County Executive Angela Alsobrooks and another second-tier candidate came in each with a small crowd of supporters and/or staff hard in the tank for their candidate and determined to show vocal support, candidate Brian Frydenborg—myself—made a surprising showing, offering some of the most detailed answers and generated significant applause after many of his statements and answers despite not having a single supporter or staffer present (but by the end of the debate, I seem to have won at least a few of former).

A Frontrunner Who Could Not Easily Outshine Second-Tier Competition and a Second-Tier Candidate (Me!) Who Held His Own Against a Frontrunner

Don’t just take my word for it, you can see/hear for yourself when I speak in this video of the full debate (at 16:20, 23:37, 30:16, 45.:11, 51.:55, 58.44, 1:05:32, 1:23:34—things get a little crazy during my conclusion because of a Gaza protester, who I wished I could have engaged and probably could have won at least partly over with what I had to say).

In some ways, I feel I “won.”  This is like one of the lowest seeds nearly beating a top seed in an away arena in the NCAA March Madness basketball tournament or a very low-ranked national squad tying against a home powerhouse in the soccer World Cup group stage play.  When such things happen, the story focus is on the upstart underdog overperforming, and I feel that is a fair take here, too.  The other candidates with staff and/or supporters they organized to bring to the event—people who were literally there to show support for specific people not named Brian Frydenborg—had to contend with a person in myself who pretty much no one there knew yet who still held his own and earned applause and support not from anyone who was literally there to cheer for him but who showed respect for him solely based on his ideas and delivery and articulation of them.  So if anything, this could be seen as a victory for me and a defeat and an embarrassment for Alsobrooks, who has raised millions of dollars, been active in Maryland politics for decades, and had a clear following present at the debate.  The other candidate I mentioned had the loudest support of all—the loudest person there was recording the debate for this candidate and gets credit for the video linked to earlier—his core showing of staff and supporters often outshining support for Alsobrooks—again—one of the two frontrunners in this race (the second, Rep. David Trone, backed out at the last minute, perhaps judging that he was far enough ahead of Alsobrooks in polling that there was more for him to lose than gain by attending).

That Alsobrooks could not generate more people to show up or more vocal support at a Baltimore event in which two virtually unknowns—including me, with no predisposed crowd support—can demonstrate anywhere near-comparable crowd response is troubling for Alsobrooks, perhaps giving some explanation as to why in the best polling she runs behind not just her Democratic main rival Trone but former Maryland Governor Republican Larry Hogan as well.

Emerson College Polling/The Hill

To be clear, I am not saying Alsobrooks performed poorly in the debate: her answers were consistently good even if sometimes coming off as listy, general, meandering, and less-detailed than my own (again, listen for yourselves and don’t take my word alone).  So her performance was not bad or anywhere near bad.  But as one of the top-two candidates (and by far so) in the primary, Alsobrooks should have displayed a crowd support and performance that blew everyone else there—all three second-tier candidates—out of the water.  That this did not happen is reason to feel less confident in her candidacy and how her campaign is being run, and while I would also caution not to read too much into any one event, with less than two months to the primary this situation was still shocking.  I essentially have no campaign organization and have no staff, but if I had raised the millions in funding she has, the setting for this debate would have been much different, that much I can say.

As it is, Alsobrooks and myself were the only two candidates who actually answered the questions in a way that demonstrated a range and depth of understanding on the issues and experience dealing with them.  As was the case in the last debate in which I participated, I was also the only candidate quoted outside of the two top-tier candidates by a media outlet: this time, with Trone absent, only myself and Alsobrooks were quoted directly by The Baltimore Sun in its writeup, each twice.  This is how I was quoted in the article:

Alsobrooks didn’t mention Trone during the roughly 90-minute forum. One of the four candidates who did attend — Brian E. Frydenborg of Montgomery County — said Trone “should be here tonight.”


The Emerson College polling showing Hogan even with Trone [and seven points ahead of Alsobrooks] “should make us all terrified because it’s worrisome,” Frydenborg said during the forum. “We cannot afford to have a Republican voting with Republicans in the Senate.” Democrats currently hold a 51-49 Senate majority.

I even had a small crowd of voters come up to talk to me after the debate and the discussions went for some time.  So, again, for this reason and all the above reasons, I feel you could argue I at the very least came in second, but could also say I tied with Alsobrooks or even won considering what was very much stacked against me and relative expectations (high for her, none for me).

Yet sadly, my performance may not even matter…

Where Is the Media??

If a Democratic U.S. Senate Primary happens in the woods and there is no media there to cover it, is it actually happening for most voters in Maryland?  I sort of jest, but not really: local media coverage has been nonexistent or wanting greatly far too often depending on the outlets involved.  For my own two debates, I can only give The Baltimore Sun high grades as it is the only outlet to have covered both.

As noted above, that debate discussed herein was just one event.  So it would also be a mistake to oversell the effect or importance of this event.  I am certain Alsobrooks and Trone are both far, far more ahead of me, that one of them will very likely be the nominee and not me, but part of the reason this effect will be so limited and that my chances of winning are so low is that the local press, let alone the national press, are mostly not covering these events.  And to me this is mystifying.  As I noted regarding the last debate at the beginning of this month, there was no local TV coverage: restaurant fires, lost pets, car accidents, and fraternity hazing were all larger priorities.  The local outlet Maryland Matters was absent at both debates; the local paper Baltimore Banner was at the last one, but not this one in Baltimore (strange considering the paper’s name).  I found no local TV station coverage for this more recent one, either.  And while sometimes this is at least partly on the organizers not reaching out enough, as a journalist here, I can say regardless of whether or not the organizers are contacting journalists, it is the job of the journalists to keep track of and cover these events themselves.  And here in Maryland, they are clearly failing in their jobs, whether television stations, newspapers, or websites, with the admirable exception of The Baltimore Sun and its intrepid Jeff Barker filling this role for it.

There is absolutely no excuse for this.  With Hogan’s entry, Maryland’s U.S. Senate race is one of the most interesting and important Senate races in the whole country, so there is certainly reason for more national-outlet coverage, but that the local outlets cannot even be bothered to cover this race properly now with less than two months before the primary and less than six weeks before early voting begins is an absolute disgrace.  I keep going around and asking Marylanders if they even know who is running as a Democrat for U.S. Senate, and most of the time they can’t mention one, let alone two, of the frontrunner candidates.  More often, they know Hogan is running.  And this is in a blue state.  Sure, some of is this because both Trone and Alsobrooks are fairly obscure when it comes to statewide recognition: most voters don’t even know who their U.S. House representative is, let alone their county executive.  But a lot of it is also the lack of media coverage.  All these local outlets should be covering all the candidate debates and there should be far more interviews with each candidate, including myself.

It’s as I wrote on my campaign website before the last debate:

To explain why this event and others like it are so important, I want to tell a story from the incredible book Dismantling Utopia: How Information Ended the Soviet Union, by local son of Maryland Scott Shane, a friend and mentor and an incredible reporter and author who covered crime, national security, and the Soviet Union/Russia for decades first at The Baltimore Sun (as a result he played himself on The Wire!) and later at The New York Times, winning two Pulitzer Prizes for his reporting.  He tells the story of a young, “boyish physicist” named Arkady Murashyov who ran in the 1989 Soviet elections for the Congress of People’s deputies, the first contested elections Russia in over seventy years since the 1917 election that the Communist Bolsheviks made sure did not end up counting for much on their quest for power by coup and terror.  Debates between candidates were televised live, and in one race in a district north of Moscow, the unknown Murashyov debated “older, better-known, and more conservative competitors” for over two hours, arguing that Communist one-party rule was the root of all the USSR’s problems.  Amazingly—in a society under some of the worst oppression on earth for some seven decades with no competitive elections or free debates in public throughout this era—Murashyov won the seat and became the leader of the Congress’s “radical” wing.  As Shane writes: “Without the televised debate the unknown Murashyov might well have lost” (pg. 151).

This says everything about why I need this debate and am counting on attendees and viewers to spread the word about what I know will be a powerful appearance by myself.

Voters need more exposure, not less, from their candidates.  It is remarkable that in 2024, Maryland has had such a closed race with so few events in which the candidates can stand up to public scrutiny and scrutinize each other with now there being only ten weeks left until the primary and early voting beginning before then.  Instead of being about name recognition of spending on television advertisements, let’s make this race about ideas, plans, and qualifications.  Let me be your Murashyov, a breakout star who can upend this race and be an injection of youth and fresh ideas I am ready to run with hard for Maryland and the nation.

Lack of Media Coverage Limiting Voter Engagement and Awareness, Suppressing New Voices

If these past two debates with me were properly covered and both were given properly-recorded high-quality recordings for all voters to easily see and access, I like the odds of my surging now at least somewhat in the polls, if not to the levels of Trone and Alsobrooks, at least clearly to third-place apart from all the other second-tier candidates.  And maybe that will happen still, but without coverage, without voters actually being able to see me perform well and comparably side-by-die a sitting U.S congressman and a sitting county executive, it will be so much harder and who, really, will ever even know about my debate performances?  How will voters even know the differences between the candidates or their ability to hold their own on a debate stage?  Why is the local media AND national media not prioritizing this?  And why aren’t the Democratic Party organizations and affiliated groups clamoring to promote these events and ensure proper attendance, let alone press coverage?  The only answers that make sense are that the Democrats’ plans a.) did not plan for Trone to be ahead of Alsobrooks and b.) did not plan for Hogan to be the GOP opponent, which I explained in more detail earlier

But it’s time to adjust now, and there is little time left since early voting starts in less than six weeks and the primary is less than two months away.  So consider me a Plan B: I can hold my own on the debate stage, get this race focused on detailed discussions of the issues and how to beat Hogan, and at least help push the frontrunners out of their comfort zone to be better prepared for Hogan on one end of the spectrum and offering a possibly viable third alternative on the other.

So let’s make this a three-person race by supporting and including me through to the end and let the voters decide: at the last two debates, I was the only second-tier candidate able to speak in detail on the full range of issues, and since neither front-runner is current polling ahead of Hogan in the most credible poll, voters deserve to be able to explore other options.  So it’s time for the press to do its job and start properly covering this race and for Democrats to push hard for that coverage, lest they sleepwalk into Larry Hogan giving Ben Cardin’s long-held seat to Republicans, a disaster we must avoid for so many reasons.

See related articles Maryland U.S. Democratic Primary Debate Raises Questions on Frontrunners’ & Party’s Readiness to Take on Hogan. Can Frydenborg Emerge As Third Option? and Petty Feuding Between Trone and Alsobrooks Does Not Honor Ben Cardin’s Legacy. Vote for Me Instead! And see all of Brian’s Maryland U.S. Senate race coverage here as well as Brian’s official campaign website.

© 2024 Brian E. Frydenborg all rights reserved, permission required for republication, attributed quotations welcome

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