A day before undergoing surgery for cancer, David Trone, the Potomac Democrat seeking to succeed Rep. John Delaney, said Monday that he would resume campaigning after recuperating for two weeks and brushed aside questions about whether his health would undermine his quest for the House seat.
His once-full head of hair bare because of chemotherapy, Trone said he has lost about 15 pounds since June 25, the day before winning the Democratic nomination in Maryland’s 6th District, when doctors confirmed he had a tumor in his urinary tract.
But the co-founder of Total Wine & More, who has spent more than $10 million on his campaign, said he expected a “full recovery” and betrayed no hesitation about returning to the campaign trail after recovering from the surgery.
“We’ve never discussed and see no reason to ever consider dropping out of the race,” said Trone, 62, during a brief interview in Frederick, before hosting a 45-minute discussion with educators.
“Fantastic,” Trone said when asked how he was feeling. “Chemotherapy is behind us. I feel really good.”
Trone is facing Republican Amie Hoeber in the Nov. 6 general election to represent a district that reaches from Montgomery County’s Democratic precincts to more conservative western Maryland.
Represented by a Republican before Delaney (D) won the seat in 2012, the race is regarded as the most competitive of the state’s eight congressional districts, though it leans Democratic.
Delaney is relinquishing his seat to run for president.
In June, Trone defeated seven opponents seeking the Democratic nomination in the district, his second attempt to win a House seat. In 2016, he lost the Democratic nomination for the 8th District seat now occupied by Rep. Jamie B. Raskin (D), despite spending $13 million.
Trone knew about his cancer diagnosis on the night he won the primary but had shared the news only with his family. He did not disclose his condition to the public until Aug. 27, two months later. He said doctors first became aware of a potential problem when they spotted traces of blood in his urine during a routine physical in May.
Before disclosing his condition publicly, Trone underwent chemotherapy to reduce the size of the tumor and received a prognosis from doctors for a full recovery.
“We felt like we wanted to not just make an announcement, ‘Oh I have a tumor,’ ” he said. “We wanted to make an announcement, ‘Here’s where we stand; here’s what the next steps are,’ so we actually had something to report.”
Aside from “a little bit of fatigue” and hair loss, Trone said he has not felt physical discomfort. During the surgery at Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore, doctors plan to remove Trone’s kidney on his right side. Doctors will assess his need for additional chemotherapy following the procedure.
Trone’s announcement about his cancer two weeks ago occurred three days after a political blogger, A Miner Detail, published photos of the businessman with thinning hair and reported that Maryland Democratic officials were concerned about his health.
In the past two weeks, Democratic operatives have privately speculated about Trone’s ability to complete the campaign. Over the weekend, Red Maryland, a website that touts itself as the state’s “Conservative Voice,” posted that “Democrats may be seeking ways to replace” Trone, an assertion it attributed to “multiple” unnamed sources.
A spokesman for Hoeber alerted a Washington Post reporter to Red Maryland’s post on Sunday but said in a text message that Hoeber’s “campaign had nothing to do with it.”
Nevertheless, Trone’s campaign on Monday seized on Red Maryland’s post as an opportunity to deride Hoeber.
“It’s incredibly offensive that Amie Hoeber’s Republican attack dogs are playing politics with news about David Trone’s health,” said Jerid Kurtz, Trone’s campaign manager. He described “any suggestion” that Trone would be unable to assume office as “a lie.”
Hoeber, in a statement released Monday night by her campaign consultant, said, “We have no association with anyone who has made comments about Mr. Trone’s health or political future.” She wished Trone a “speedy recovery.”
The consultant, Paul Ellington, accused Trone’s campaign of using Red Maryland’s blog post “to attack our campaign or in some way make this a line of attack for political purposes. We hope that they refrain from inserting this into the campaign. Today’s statement certainly implies they were determined to do so and that’s unfortunate.”
In discussing his condition, Trone invoked Gov. Larry Hogan (R), who declared in 2015 that he had been diagnosed with “very advanced and very aggressive” Stage 3 non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma.
The governor made a full recovery and is seeking reelection against Democrat Ben Jealous.
“Governor Hogan has shown that cancer can be beaten,” Trone said. “We’re excited to get this situation behind us.”