MARYLAND MATTERS — Maryland’s leading Democratic Senate candidates met in a public forum Sunday afternoon, broadly agreeing on a range of topics, including immigration policy, LGBTQ+ rights, education spending and economic priorities.
But the 90-minute discussion generated some surprising heat, as Prince George’s County Executive Angela Alsobrooks took issue with U.S. Rep. David Trone’s frequent and not-so-subtle digs at “career politicians” and also pointed out that Trone, a wealthy businessman, has made campaign contributions to “dangerous Republicans” in the past.
After some sniping, the third candidate on the stage, businessman Juan Dominguez, who was situated between Trone and Alsobrooks, joked, “I’m afraid I’m going to have to move my seat because the debate is getting real.”
Sponsored by the Latino Democrats of Prince George’s County, the forum drew about 300 people to the auditorium at Elizabeth Seton High School in Bladensburg, despite the rain and fog and the presence of a Washington Commanders football game just five miles away. Elizabeth Seton is a Catholic school in a part of Prince George’s where the Latino population has grown dramatically in recent years.
The event was a coming-out party of sorts for Dominguez, a former business executive from Anne Arundel County who once held local office in New Jersey and has struggled to gain traction in the Democratic primary. Dominguez fought furiously with leaders of the Prince George’s Latino Democratic club to be included in the forum, after they sought to exclude him, due to his lack of fundraising, from an earlier event that had to be rescheduled. Dominguez, the son of Cuban émigrés, argued that the only Latino in the race needed to be included in the proceedings.
Displaying no evident nervousness at sharing a stage with more seasoned political leaders, Dominguez used Sunday’s forum to amplify a populist economic message, which included health care for all, a “Robin Hood tax” on the wealthy, and elimination of student debt. He said he supported the elimination of the filibuster in the Senate and also would support granting President Biden two extra appointments to the Supreme Court — and was as quick on his feet and as fluent on the issues as his opponents.
Dominguez has had a long corporate career, serving most recently as a vice president at Breezeline, a national cable TV and telecommunications company. He is a West Point graduate and Army veteran, serving in the Gulf War, and was an elected member of the borough council in Bogota, N.J., in the 1990s.
Dominguez used a few Spanish phrases during Sunday’s forum, and clearly sought a connection with the Latinos in the audience. But he was also quick to acknowledge the potential pioneering candidacy of one of his opponents.
“After I’m elected Maryland’s first Latino senator I will work to ensure that Angela is the next woman elected to the Senate,” he said.