David Trone Is Among Top Self-Funders in Senate Primary History

Representative David Trone, a Democrat who apologized for using a racial slur during a recent House committee meeting, has poured nearly $42 million from his personal fortune into his Senate bid in Maryland, according to the latest federal quarter filings, putting him among the top self-funders in Senate primary history.

Mr. Trone, who founded and owns a lucrative wine and liquor retailer alongside his brother, invested $18.5 million of his own money from January to March alone, ending last month with $1 million on hand. He drew only about $216,100 from other donors in that time, according to the filings.

Mr. Trone is seeking to make up ground in his hotly contested Democratic primary against Angela Alsobrooks, the prominent executive of Prince George’s County, and a slate of lesser known candidates. Now in his third term in the House of Representatives, Mr. Trone has picked up endorsements from top House Democrats. But his use of the slur has drawn criticism.

Last month, while praising President Biden’s tax proposals at a congressional budget hearing, Mr. Trone dropped a derogatory term used to caricature Black people. He later apologized, adding that he misspoke and meant to say “bugaboo.” “Regardless of what I meant to say, I shouldn’t have used that language, and I apologize,” he said at the time.

Five Black Democrats in the House then endorsed Ms. Alsobrooks, who is Black, though they made no mention of the slur. She ended the latest quarter with nearly $3.2 million cash on hand, according to federal filings. The primary is on May 14.

The winner is likely to face Larry Hogan, a popular former governor of the state who is seeking the Republican nomination, in what is expected to be a competitive general election. While Maryland has not elected a Republican senator in more than 40 years, it elected Mr. Hogan as governor twice.

In the Democratic Senate primary, Mr. Trone has sought to stake out a position to the left of Ms. Alsobrooks on issues such as addiction and criminal justice, and to emphasize his humble origins growing up on a farm in Pennsylvania and building a fortune as the founder of his company, Total Wine & More. He has pitched his ability to self-fund as a bulwark against the influence of political action committees, lobbyists and corporations.

In a statement, Joe Bowen, his campaign’s communications director, pointed to Mr. Trone’s self-funding as evidence that “he’s prepared to do whatever it takes to beat Larry Hogan in November and protect the Democratic Senate majority.”

Before his Senate run, Mr. Trone spent more than $43 million of his own money on his House races dating back to 2016, when he lost in a neighboring district, and he already had the distinction of being the top self-funder in House history, said Jacob Rubashkin, an analyst with Inside Elections, a nonpartisan newsletter that analyzes congressional races. Mr. Rubashkin said in an interview that Mr. Trone made most of his latest investment last quarter before his misstep at the hearing.

Mr. Rubashkin said Mr. Trone had entered the race with some disadvantages and was facing stiff competition. “He had a lot of ground to make up, and the money was his way of doing that,” Mr. Rubashkin said.



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