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David Trone, Largest Self-Funder in House History, Wins Democratic Nod in Maryland

Wine magnate has spent nearly $25 million of his money on two Maryland primaries

David Trone won the Democratic nomination in Maryland’s 6th District. (Courtesy David Trone campaign)
David Trone won the Democratic nomination in Maryland’s 6th District. (Courtesy David Trone campaign)

Wine magnate David Trone, who poured nearly $12 million of his own money into the primary for Maryland’s open 6th District, won the Democratic nomination Tuesday night.

With 96 percent of precincts reporting, Trone led the eight-way race with 41 percent of the vote when The Associated Press called the race. State Del. Aruna Miller was in second with 30 percent.

Trone will face defense consultant and 2016 nominee Amie Hoeber, who won the GOP nomination Tuesday. Democratic incumbent John Delaney is vacating the seat to run for president.

No House candidate has ever spent more of their own money on a race — except for Trone himself, when he spent $13 million trying to secure the Democratic nod in the neighboring 8th District in 2016. He came up short, finishing second behind Jamie Raskin, who now holds the seat.

Like the 8th District contest two years ago, the race for the 6th District, which stretches from the D.C. suburbs into western Maryland, is rated Solid Democratic by Inside Elections with Nathan L. Gonzales.

$12 million

Trone is the co-owner of Total Wine & More. By the end of the pre-primary reporting period in early June, he had contributed $10.2 million to his campaign. He followed that up on June 13 with another $1.2 million contribution.

His spending on two successive races allowed him to blanket the airwaves, raising his name recognition in the region.

Although he faced criticism for trying to buy a congressional nomination, voters weren’t necessarily turned off by his self-funding.

“It’s the way of the world,” said Janet Ardman, a 61-year-old Montgomery Village resident who cast her vote for Trone at an early voting location in Gaithersburg last week.

As a woman, an immigrant, a state legislator and an engineer, Miller checked many of the boxes of the kinds of candidates Democrats are nominating this year. For the first time in more than 40 years, the state doesn’t have any women in its congressional delegation — a fact Miller and her supporters discussed on the trail. She was Maryland’s best shot to elect a woman to Congress this year. Despite endorsing her, EMILY’s List did not make any independent expenditures on her behalf.

The general election

With 96 percent of precincts reporting, Hoeber led a four-way GOP field with 68 percent of the vote.

She lost to Delaney by 16 points in 2016, while Hillary Clinton was carrying the seat by 15 points.

Delaney had a close election in 2014, winning by less than 2 points in a good year for Republicans. Democrats had redrawn the 6th District to favor their party after the 2010 Census, which helped Delaney unseat longtime GOP Rep. Roscoe G. Bartlett two years earlier. The Supreme Court punted earlier this month on a challenge to the district lines from GOP voters, sending the case back to district court.

The National Republican Congressional Committee has made the 6th District a target this year.

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