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Alsobrooks wins Democratic nomination for Prince George’s executive

Angela Alsobrooks, right, cheers with her daughter Alexandra Alsobrooks and volunteers outside Dr. Henry A. Wise Junior High School in Upper Marlboro. (Cheryl Diaz Meyer/For The Washington Post)

Prince George’s County State’s Attorney Angela Alsobrooks won the Democratic nomination for county executive Tuesday, making her the overwhelming favorite to become the first woman to lead the Washington suburb.

Alsobrooks, the county’s top prosecutor since 2011, defeated former congresswoman Donna F. Edwards, state Sen. C. Anthony Muse and six other Democrats in a hard-fought primary that centered on the influence of developers in Prince George’s, how to improve the county’s struggling public school system and which candidate was most focused on the needs of working people.

“We are so looking forward to moving our county forward,” ­Alsobrooks told cheering supporters Tuesday night.

“I have heard you loudly and clearly. More than anything, I know Prince Georgians,” said ­Alsobrooks, who promised to address residents’ concerns about county schools.

Republican Jerry Mathis will also be on the ballot in November, but in heavily Democratic Prince George’s, the primary is tantamount to winning the election.

Calvin Hawkins, a longtime adviser to Democratic county executive Rushern Baker III, and Democratic council member Mel Franklin are the leading ­vote-getters in the race for two new at-large council seats, according to preliminary returns. The at-large seats were created by a 2016 ballot measure. Republican Felicia Folarin will also be on the ballot in November.

Read full Maryland primary results here

As the county’s top prosecutor, Alsobrooks, 47, increased funding for the office, hired more attorneys and focused on diversion programs for first-time offenders. Crime in the county declined about 50 percent during her tenure, in line with national trends.

Edwards did not publicly address her loss late Tuesday but had called Alsobrooks to concede before Alsobrooks stepped out to thank voters, said John Erzen, Alsobrooks’s campaign communications director.

Alsobrooks was embraced by county and state leaders, which Edwards and Muse, who billed themselves as political outsiders, said showed a lack of independence — a characterization Alsobrooks repeatedly rejected but which remained a talking point on the campaign trail.

She canvassed Tuesday with volunteers decked out in her signature lime green, making her case to voters in front of Dr. Henry A. Wise Jr. High School in Upper Marlboro.

Darius Stanton, 48, snapped a picture with Alsobrooks and shook her hand as she campaigned. He said he planned to vote for Alsobrooks, whom he described as “someone who can think independently and put forward a positive vision for Prince George’s.”

“Regardless of the attacks, she never went negative,” said Stanton, a consultant and motivational speaker.

Minutes later, Alsobrooks was hugging LaCountress Tabor, of Upper Marlboro, who said she had studied Alsobrooks’s career as state’s attorney and thought she was the most experienced and “compassionate” candidate.

Victoria Robinson, of Greenbelt, said she voted for Alsobrooks based on her record as state’s attorney and liked that she “tried high-profile cases herself and focused on domestic violence.” She said it showed “progress” in Prince George’s that two women — Alsobrooks and Edwards — led the county executive’s race in terms of fundraising and endorsements.

“Women have been out here working for a long time, and it’s time they be recognized,” she said.

Edwards, who was drafted to run for county executive following her unsuccessful 2016 bid for a U.S. Senate seat, campaigned Tuesday with her mother, crisscrossing the county in an R.V. with a picture of her face on it.

“I’m happy we’ve made it to this stage,” Edwards said Tuesday afternoon as she stood outside Reid Temple in Glenn Dale introducing herself to voters. “We’ve all had the chance to make our case to voters, so we’ll see what they decide.”

Although Alsobrooks outraised Edwards, who pledged not to take money from developers, the former congresswoman received a boost from a super PAC that poured nearly $1 million into mailers, Facebook ads and other media supporting her — a level of involvement that is highly unusual in a local Prince George’s race.

Harry Abik of College Park voted for Edwards because of her experience in Washington, which Edwards says would help her separate the county’s economy from the federal landscape.

“She knows politics,” Abik, 66, said. “Her experience is strong, and that counts.”

Muse, a pastor with a compelling up-from-poverty story, received the support of Cassandra Pair, 51, who said he has saved county jobs, helps the people who need it most and is “dignified.” Pair, of College Park, said it was an “easy choice.”

The other county executive candidates on the ballot were former Obama appointee Paul Monteiro, Samuel W. Bogley III, Lewis Johnson, Michael Kennedy, Tommie Thompson and Billy Bridges.

Democrat Aisha Braveboy won the three-way state’s attorney’s race, which this year focused more on diversion and rehabilitation than punishment. Braveboy, who will succeed Alsobrooks, has never been a prosector and wants to create more diversion programs for low-level offenders and continue the office’s focus on prosecuting and preventing domestic violence.

Democrats Derrick Leon Davis, former state delegate Jolene Ivey and Realtor Monique Anderson-Walker won their district council races. The four other contested races were too close to call.

Incumbent County Council Chair Dannielle M. Glaros and Vice Chair Todd M. Turner, both Democrats, faced no opposition.

In a primary season dominated by discussion about how to improve the jurisdiction’s struggling public schools, 18 candidates competed for four open school board seats. In District 2, Lupi Grady and Joshua Thomas, the top two vote-getters, will advance to the general election in November. Pamela Boozer-Strother and Juwan Blocker in District 3 will advance, Carolyn Boston and Belinda Queen in District 6 and Sonya Williams and Arun Puracken in District 9.

Incumbent Cereta A. Lee won the register of wills race; Mahasin El Amin appeared poised to win a six-way race for clerk of the circuit court; and Wendy Alice Cartwright was on the path to win a four-way race for judge of the orphans’ court.

On the campaign trail, Alsobrooks emphasized her ability to collaborate, promising to work with the County Council and whoever is elected governor in November. She pledged to better support teachers, work to keep students in school and grow small local businesses to expand the commercial tax base.

A native Prince Georgian, Alsobrooks began her career as the first full-time attorney to handle domestic violence cases in the state’s attorney’s office. She led the county’s Revenue Authority, a quasi-governmental organization, which among other things oversees speed and red-light cameras and helps finance county construction projects, for six years before running for state’s attorney in 2010.

“Trust me based on my record,” Alsobrooks told voters at a forum last month. “Not only having great ideas and solutions, but also bring able to deliver for you.”

Alsobrooks was also the first woman to be elected state’s attorney in Prince George’s. She said in an interview that she wants children to see “it’s possible to grow up in this county and become something and contribute to it.”

“I am a homegrown person and professional who is trying to do the best to honor my community,” she said.

Alsobrooks, who is not married, has a 13-year-old daughter, Alexandra.