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Trone launches bid to succeed Cardin in Senate in Maryland

Founder of wine store chain is one of Democrats’ top self-funders

Rep. David Trone, D-Md., said he would run for Senate next year, seeking to succeed retiring Democratic Sen. Benjamin L. Cardin.
Rep. David Trone, D-Md., said he would run for Senate next year, seeking to succeed retiring Democratic Sen. Benjamin L. Cardin. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Rep. David Trone said Thursday he will run for Senate, entering what is expected to be a competitive contest for the Democratic nomination to succeed Maryland Sen. Benjamin L. Cardin, who announced his retirement earlier this week. 

“Marylanders need real solutions now, because we face major challenges — and the clock is ticking,” Trone said in a statement announcing his candidacy. “That’s why I’m running for U.S. Senate: to work with Marylanders, to take on these challenges, and to take the bold steps necessary to make real change. Because this is not about me — it’s about the issues that are facing our state.”

In a video announcing his run, Trone focused on addressing drug abuse, mental health and criminal justice, which are issues he has focused on since he was first elected in 2018.

His work on drug addiction issues is personal. His nephew, Ian, died of an overdose from fentanyl at age 24 after spending time between halfway houses, in the criminal justice system and in other treatments. Trone and his wife, June, had assumed responsibility for Ian’s care before his death.

Now in his third term, Trone first ran for the House in 2016, but lost a primary in the 8th District to Rep. Jamie Raksin, who went on to win the seat. Raskin, the top Democrat on the House Committee on Oversight and Reform, is considered another potential candidate for the Senate race. Prince George’s County Executive Angela Alsobrooks and Baltimore County Executive Johnny Olzewski Jr. could also get into the race. Will Jawando, a member of the Montgomery County council, announced a run Tuesday

Former Gov. Larry Hogan, a Republican who won statewide twice, said before Cardin’s retirement he would not run for the seat. 

Trone’s announcement touted his refusal to accept contributions from corporate PACs or lobbyists, but he is also one of the top self-funders in the House. The founder with his brother of Total Wine & More, Trone loaned his 2022 campaign $12.6 million, according to Federal Election Commission filings. He defeated Republican Neal Parrott by 10 points in the 6th District last year.

In Congress, Trone helped form the Bipartisan Addiction and Mental Health Task Force, of which he is a co-chair. He sees those issues overlapping with criminal justice issues.

He came to the Capitol already familiar with the judicial system. Early in his career selling highly regulated alcohol products, Trone was indicted and arrested in Pennsylvania multiple times after competitors complained over such matters as his shop’s advertising practices and negotiated discounts for beer prices. 

Trone paid millions of dollars in legal bills to fight the charges, which were later dropped, and the experience led him on a path toward philanthropic efforts to improve the criminal justice system. Through their foundation, he and his wife founded a center with the American Civil Liberties Union focused on decreasing the rates of incarceration and recidivism.

“I’ll be using these next few months to talk to everyone I can about these issues. Because if we talk about them, then maybe, with your help, we’ll do something about them,” Trone said in the video.

He sits on the House Appropriations Committee, as well as the Budget Committee and the Joint Economic Committee.

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