Trone Announces He Has Spent $9.1 Million on Congressional Campaign

Trone Announces He Has Spent $9.1 Million on Congressional Campaign

The Total Wine & More founder announced the total in a full-page ad in The Washington Post that was also posted on his website

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David Trone at a candidates' forum in Bethesda in February

Aaron Kraut

David Trone says he has spent more than $9 million of his own fortune on his campaign for the Maryland 8th Congressional District.

The Total Wine & More founder made the unusual move Tuesday to announce the staggering figure in a statement published in a full-page ad in The Washington Post that was also posted to his website.

Normally, the public learns of campaign spending through media reports that cover candidates’ filings with the Federal Election Commission. But Trone, who made a late entry into the competitive Democratic primary race for Rep. Chris Van Hollen’s seat, preempted media reports by announcing his spending himself. He is required to report his spending through April 6 to the FEC by Thursday.

“You’ll read more about it later this week when we report to the [FEC] that I’ve spent $9.1 million to date on my campaign,” Trone wrote in the statement. “Campaigns shouldn’t be this expensive. But they are, especially when you’re a big underdog in an expensive, fragmented media market.”

Trone also says in the statement that self-funding his campaign is “better than taking money from PACs, lobbyists and other big donors.” If elected, he pledged in the statement to continue to self-fund any re-election bids rather than spend time fundraising.

However, congressional campaigns are rarely this expensive. Trone’s spending outpaces almost all of the most expensive self-funded House of Representatives campaigns in history, according to data from the Center for Responsive Politics put into a chart by local politics blog The Seventh State. The four other candidates who spent $6 million or more of their own funds on campaigns all lost in the general election.

Trone’s campaign spending is approaching that of modern Maryland gubernatorial campaigns. According to another Seventh State chart, only four Maryland gubernatorial candidates have spent more than Trone has spent so far:

  • Bob Ehrlich – $17.6 million in 2006 (lost re-election bid)
  • Martin O’Malley – $14.5 million in 2010 (won second term)
  • Martin O’Malley – $14.3 million in 2006 (won first term)
  • Anthony Brown – $12.6 million in 2014 (lost bid for first term)

Trone is running in a tight race against eight Democratic candidates. Former news anchor and Marriott International executive Kathleen Matthews, state Sen. Jamie Raskin, Del. Kumar Barve and Trone are widely seen as the leading candidates to win the primary. As of Dec. 31, Matthews reported raising $1.6 million, Raskin $1.3 million and Barve $530,000.

Since jumping into the race at the beginning of January, Trone has saturated the region with TV, radio and online advertising about his campaign. The primary election is April 26.

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