Wine retailer David Trone will report to the Federal Election Commission later this week that he has spent $9.1 million of his own money so far in pursuit of the Democratic nomination for Maryland’s 8th Congressional District, making him all but certain to become the biggest self-funding House candidate ever.
Trone, who lives in Potomac, made the disclosure in a full-page ad in this morning’s Washington Post. In the ad, he explained that as a first-time candidate running against better-known opponents, he needed to spend what was necessary to convey his positions on issues. He also said that relying on his own resources would leave him unencumbered by special interests once in office.
“I certainly could have raised enough money to fund a competitive campaign,” said Trone, who is accepting individual contributions of no more than $10. “But the PACs, lobbyists and big dollar donors who give money would expect special attention. No matter how well-intentioned, those contributions and the candidates who take them are part of the reason Washington is broken.”
Campaign finance reports covering activity from Jan. 1 through April 6 are due on Thursday. Trone did not enter the race until late January, so this week’s filing will be the first official look at how he has spent his money.
His outlays for radio, television and digital advertising, along with direct mail and polling, will almost certainly surpass those of his principal competitors, state Sen. Jamie Raskin and former news anchor Kathleen Matthews, both of whom have pursued traditional fundraising. Each raised just a fraction of Trone’s total through Dec. 31. Matthews collected $1.5 million; Raskin raised $1.3 million.
Both campaigns declined Tuesday to discuss their first quarter fundraising totals and said they were still working to complete their FEC filings.
With two weeks left until the April 26 primary, Trone appears likely to top the previous biggest self-funders in House races, according to data complied by the Center for Responsive Politics.
In 1992 Michael Huffington spent $5.4 million (just under $9 million in current dollars) to win a California congressional seat. Democrat Phil Maloof, a member of a wealthy New Mexico family, loaned his campaign close to $10 million in two 1998 losses to Republican Heather Wilson in the state’s 1st Congressional District. (One was a June special election, the other the November general.) Part of the loan was repaid, resulting in a net self-funding of a little over $6.3 million (about $9.2 million in current dollars), according to center data.
Trone has said his funds are direct payments, not loans.
West Virginia attorney James Humphreys, a Democrat, loaned his campaign $7.8 million (about $10 million in current dollars) in 2002, when he lost to then-Rep. Shelley Moore Capito (R) in the state’s 2nd Congressional District. Two years earlier, Humphreys spent $6.1 million in his first campaign against Capito, who is now in the U.S. Senate.