Updated – 4:30 p.m. – Alcohol store magnate David Trone, one of eight Democrats running for Congress in Maryland’s 6th District, has contributed another $5 million to his campaign since April, bringing the total amount he has personally contributed to about $10.3 million.
Trone’s campaign reported the latest self-funding figures in a pre-primary report filed Thursday with the Federal Election Commission. Trone is drawing closer to the $13.3 million he spent in 2016 in an unsuccessful bid to win the District 8 congressional seat now held by Jamie Raskin of Takoma Park. With that spending, Trone became the top self-funded House candidate in history.
The Total Wine & More co-owner’s self-funding has enabled him to vastly outspend his chief Democratic rivals in the race—state Del. Aruna Miller (D-Darnestown) and state Sen. Roger Manno (D-Silver Spring).
During the current election cycle, Trone has spent $9.5 million; Miller, $811,000; and Manno, $147,000, according to latest campaign finance reports filed this week.
Manno has not contributed any of his own money to his campaign, while Miller has donated $1,500 to her campaign.
From April 1 to June 6, Miller raised $179,500 from outside contributors; Trone, $101,000; and Manno, $27,860.
Trone reported having $1.19 million in cash on hand as of June 6 while Miller reported $556,000 and Manno, $268,500.
Chart compiled by Bethesda Beat using campaign finance reports filed with the FEC. (click to expand)
All three are hoping to win the seat of Rep. John Delaney, who is running for president. Early voting in the primary runs through June 21 and primary election day is June 26. District 6 stretches from Potomac in Montgomery County north to Frederick County and includes the Western Maryland panhandle.
Miller said Friday she wasn’t surprised to learn that Trone had contributed another $5 million to his campaign.
“Apparently Mr. Trone thinks public office can be bought,” Miller said. “I have a difference of opinion, I think public office is something you earn, not something you buy.”
That sentiment is nearly identical to one regularly expressed by Raskin in the 2016 race, when he defeated Trone in the 8th Congressional District primary.
Miller said her campaign has something money can’t buy—a dedicated group of volunteers.
“We have no problem reaching out to voters,” Miller said. “They tell 10 people, those people tell 10 other people and that’s what grassroots campaigning is all about.”
Trone's campaign spokesman Alex Koren said in an email to Bethesda Beat that Trone contributed another $5 million to his campaign to let voters know where he stands on policy issues like other candidates.
"David agrees that public office is something you earn," Koren wrote. "He has been active in politics and policy for his entire adult life pushing criminal justice reform, helping the Muslim community take real action to stand up to Trump on the travel ban, and promoting diversity in education."
Miller said she believes she and Trone are the front-runners in the Democratic primary race.
“From what I hear, the boots on the ground … it’s really a two-person race right now,” Miller said.
She has received support from Emily’s List, a group that provides funds to female candidates running for public office. The group has donated about $17,000 to her campaign. She’s also been endorsed by influential groups such as the Maryland State Education Association and Maryland Sierra Club as well as high-ranking public officials including Montgomery County Executive Ike Leggett and Maryland House Speaker Michael Busch.
Manno said he found it “disturbing” that Trone has donated an additional $5 million to his campaign.
“Equally disturbing is the handpicked candidate of Washington and Annapolis insiders,” he said of Miller. “We deserve better.” Manno’s campaign has been bolstered by widespread support from labor unions and progressive groups.
A majority of the approximately 75 individual contributions Trone received from April 1 through June 6 were for $1,000 or more. The fact that Trone is self-funding his campaign and has collected sizable individual contributions contrasts with his comments when he launched his campaign in August. At that time, he told reporters, “We’re going to raise money the old-fashioned way—$25 at a time—just like President Obama did, just like Bernie Sanders did, with lots of meet and greets, lots of consumer, voter contact, and we’re going to really work hard to get out there and I think that’s going to make a difference.”
Trone has been endorsed by U.S. Reps. Dutch Ruppersberger and Anthony Brown as well as Prince George’s County Executive Rushern Baker. The endorsements from Brown and Baker drew controversy because Trone has heavily contributed to their political campaigns in the past.
Other Democratic candidates in the race include scientist Christopher Hearsey, veteran Andrew Duck, small business owner Chris Graves, retired federal economist George English and Nadia Hashimi, a pediatrician and author.
Hashimi has not yet filed a pre-primary campaign finance report, according to the FEC website, although she reported having about $302,000 cash on hand as of March 31. Much of that came from a $225,000 personal loan.
Duck has about $12,000 in cash on hand, while Hearsey and Graves did not file updated reports this month, according to FEC data. English reported raising no money for his campaign.
In the Republican primary, only Potomac consultant Amie Hoeber filed an updated report this week. She reported having $99,560 in cash on hand and has so far raised $284,000 this election cycle including $119,000 in self-funding. Hoeber was the Republican nominee in 2016 when she lost the general election to Delaney.
The other Republicans running in the primary are former marine Kurt Elsasser of Hagerstown, nurse practitioner Lisa Lloyd of Potomac and Germantown real estate broker Bradley Stephen Rohrs.