Maryland Rep. David Trone, who’s poured millions of his own money into his congressional campaigns, is announcing his Senate candidacy on Thursday, accelerating what will likely be a competitive Democratic primary for the seat of retiring Sen. Ben Cardin.
His announcement video opens with a ticking clock and Trone rattling off statistics about deaths from overdoses and mental illness and racial inequity in the criminal justice system.
“Is any of this acceptable to you? To anyone? Not to me,” the congressman says.
Montgomery County Councilmember Will Jawando launched his bid earlier this week, and other big names like Rep. Jamie Raskin could also be in the mix for the Democratic nomination. The general election isn’t likely to be competitive in a state that President Joe Biden carried by 33 points in 2020. That means the real action will play out in the primary, which will help take the temperature of the Democratic electorate in 2024.
Cardin, the chair of the Small Business Committee and second-ranking Democrat on the Foreign Relations Committee, announced Monday that he would not run for reelection in 2024. Having held the seat since 2006, his departure is providing an opening for ambitious Democrats in a blue state. There’s plenty of time for would-be candidates to enter the race – Maryland’s filing deadline is February 9, 2024.
Trone, the owner and co-founder of Total Wine & More, could bring significant personal resources to the race. He loaned $12,552,000 to his 2022 campaign for Maryland’s 6th District, according to the Federal Election Commission – more than any other House candidate in the country. He won reelection last fall by about 10 points in a district Biden carried by about a similar margin in 2020.
His history of self-funding is longstanding. When he first won the nomination for the 6th District in 2018, he spent nearly $12 million of his own money – slightly less than the record he set in 2016 for a House candidate self-funding when he spent $13 million to try to secure the nomination in the 8th District. (He came up short against Raskin.)
Despite that personal wealth, Trone spotlights humble beginnings in his Senate announcement video, talking about how his family’s farm was seized by the bank.
“I know what it’s like to struggle,” he says. “I learned there’s no shame in asking for help, but there is in not helping.”