U.S. Rep. David Trone (D-6th) has already spent more than $4.7 million on his campaign for U.S. Senate — about half of it on cable TV ads and other significant sums on digital advertising and slick campaign mailers.
Trone’s expenditures in the early weeks of the 2024 open-seat Senate race dwarf the spending of his chief rivals for the Democratic nomination, Prince George’s County Executive Angela Alsobrooks and Montgomery County Councilmember Will Jawando, and have been fueled largely by his own fortune. Trone, the co-founder of Total Wine & More, a national liquor store chain, is one of the richest members of Congress.
The latest fundraising and spending totals of the Senate candidates and candidates for Maryland’s eight U.S. House seats were made public Saturday in campaign finance reports submitted to the Federal Election Commission. The reports cover all of the candidates’ financial activities from April 1 to June 30. Maryland’s Senate race began in earnest in early May, after U.S. Sen. Ben Cardin (D) announced he would not seek a fourth term.
In all, the Trone campaign reported taking in $9,833,793 in the second quarter of the year — $9,725,000 via a loan from the candidate. The lion’s share of the $108,000 in contributions Trone received, $73,950, were funneled to the campaign by AIPAC, the powerful pro-Israel lobby. The campaign said 90% of its contributions were from Maryland.
Trone has sought to make a virtue of his vast wealth, saying it frees him from being susceptible to political influence.
“I’m grateful to the Marylanders who gave generously to support our campaign,” Trone said in a statement Saturday. “With their help — and without taking a single penny from PACs, lobbyists, or corporations — we are showing Marylanders from Oakland to Ocean City and everywhere in between that I’ll be a Senator who listens to them, understands the issues they face, and will be ready on day one to make a difference in their lives.”
Trone reported spending $4,742,231 between April 1 and June 30, and finished the quarter with $5,262,901 in his campaign account.
But Trone’s current bottom line is almost immaterial: He has told associates he may be willing to spend upwards of $40 million of his own money on the Senate race. That’s a daunting prospect for his opponents.
Alsobrooks, as she announced earlier this month, reported $1,730,019 in contributions since becoming a Senate candidate. She spent $395,701 and finished June with $1,334,318 on hand.
Alsobrooks’ contributions came from a wide variety of sources, including Washington, D.C.-area development interests, Maryland business and financial leaders, prominent current and former elected officials, including House Speaker Adrienne Jones (D-Baltimore County) and state Comptroller Brooke Lierman (D), and Annapolis lobbyists. Among her donors were Wanda Durant, Prince George’s community activist and mother of NBA star Kevin Durant (she gave $6,600); Ted Leonsis, owner of the Washington Wizards, Washington Capitals and Washington Mystics ($1,000); Mark Lerner, owner of the Washington Nationals ($3,125), Democratic strategist and political commentator Donna Brazile ($500); and philanthropist Barbara Lee, who works to get women elected to high office ($3,300).
EMILY’s List, the Democratic fundraising powerhouse that endorses Democratic women who support abortion rights, contributed $5,000 through its political action committee, and was the conduit for an additional $15,315 in donations to Alsobrooks’ campaign.
In its announcement on its fundraising earlier this month, the Alsobrooks campaign said 76% of her contributions came from Maryland. The campaign’s largest single expenditure, about $90,000, went to digital advertising.
Jawando’s campaign brought in $526,026, spent $211,781 and finished June with $314,244.
In a statement released Friday, Jawando called himself the only progressive in the race and suggested his campaign is about to get a big boost now that U.S. Rep. Jamie Raskin (D-8th) has decided to seek reelection rather than run for the Senate. Alsobrooks and Trone at various times in the campaign have also referred to themselves as progressives.
“I look forward to bringing a big, bold campaign to every Marylander, in every corner of this state,” Jawando said. “We’re just getting started. There may be other candidates in this race who have more personal wealth and establishment support, but I am proud to be running as the only grassroots, true blue progressive. I couldn’t be more excited about where we are and I’m so grateful to everyone who donated.”
Jawando, a former Obama administration official, had an interesting mix of donors, including fashion designer Diane Von Furstenberg, who gave $3,300; actor Bob Odenkirk ($1,500); Washington Commanders President Jason Wright ($1,000); New York developer and philanthropist Laurie Tisch ($6,600); broadcast journalist Tavis Smiley ($500); author Ibram Kendi ($1,000) and prominent Obama administration alumni and podcasters Jon Favreau and Rommy Victor ($3,300 each).
No other Democratic Senate candidates had filed FEC reports by Sunday morning. A Republican candidate, attorney Robin Ficker, who runs for office every two years, reported raising $78,810 from his own pocket and spending it all, leaving his campaign with a zero balance as of June 30.
The 6th district
The race to replace Trone is expected to be one of the most competitive in Maryland in the 2024 election cycle, both in the primaries and in the general election. But among political professionals, there’s a general sense that the 6th District race hasn’t really gotten started yet, and that’s reflected in the first round of campaign finance filings.
In the Democratic race, Del. Joe Vogel (D-Montgomery) appears to be the early fundraising leader. He reported raising $115,949 since entering the primary in early May, with $36,800 in PAC contributions from organizations that support LGBTQ candidates or younger candidates. He reported spending $31,406 and had $84,542 on hand as of June 30.
Del. Lesley J. Lopez (D-Montgomery) reported raising $51,051 and spending just $1,275. She had $49,775 in the bank on June 30.
Several other Democrats, including businessman Stephen McDow, military veteran Mia Mason, consultant Destiny Drake West and Hagerstown Mayor Takesha Martinez, who recently entered the race, did not have campaign finance reports posted on the FEC website as of Sunday morning or had not reached the financial threshold to report their fundraising activities.
Other Democrats continue to ponder the race, including former Frederick County Executive Jan Gardner, Biden administration official April McLain Delaney and Krish Vignarajah, a 2018 candidate for governor and leader of Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Services.
On the Republican side, Mariela Roca, an Air Force veteran who unsuccessfully sought the GOP nomination in 2022, reported raising $67,711 in the second quarter, spending $24,212 and banking $43,519.
Former Del. Neil C. Parrott, who was the Republican nominee against Trone in 2020 and 2022, recently created an exploratory committee ahead of a possible bid next year. He raised $16,493, spent $4,386 and finished June with $27,117 on hand.
Former Del. Brenda Thiam has filed paperwork to enter the race, but she indicated that she did not raise the $5,000 threshold required to file a finance report.
Other Republicans, including Del. Jason C. Buckel of Allegany County, the House minority leader in Annapolis, are also deciding whether to run.
Other House districts
There is increasing speculation in political circles that U.S. Rep. Dutch Ruppersberger (D-2nd) may opt to retire rather than seek an 11th term in 2024. He reported raising $64,650 in the second quarter of the year — a decent sum, but considerably less than the $150,000 he raised in the first quarter of the year. Ruppersberger reported spending $127,131, including $50,000 in dues to the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, and had $875,803 in his campaign account as of June 30.
As Maryland Matters previously reported, Baltimore County Executive Johnny Olszewski Jr. (D) has begun raising money ahead of a possible congressional run if Ruppersberger retires. But the fundraising committee did not file a campaign finance statement.
Also of note: Rep. John Sarbanes (D-3rd), who has become one of the chief evangelists in Congress for campaign finance reform, continues to raise very little money. He took in just $2,728 in the last quarter and finished June with $462,335. This will surely end any speculation that he plans to run for Senate in 2024, but may also create speculation about his future political plans.
All of Maryland’s other House incumbents seem to be in fine shape financially.
Rep. Andy Harris (R-1st), who has no major competition at present, pulled in $169,233 between April 1 and June 30, and finished the period with $911,908. He reported spending $186,803, but most of it went to other political candidates or entities: $50,000 to the National Republican Congressional Committee, $30,000 to the Maryland Republican Party, which his wife, Nicole Bues Harris, currently leads, and $38,000 to congressional colleagues, including a contribution to Rep. Lauren Boebert (R-Colo.).
In the 4th District, Rep. Glenn Ivey (D) raised $133,843 and reported $221,066 in the bank.
In the 5th District, Rep. Steny Hoyer (D) raised $291,536 and had $795,119 on hand.
In the 7th District, Rep. Kweisi Mfume (D) raised $96,156 and banked $615,398.
And in the 8th District, Raskin, despite undergoing cancer treatment, raised $327,386 and finished June with $3,450,063 on hand.
Disclosure: The David and June Trone Family Foundation was a financial supporter of Maryland Matters in 2017 and 2018. Councilmember Will Jawando was a featured speaker at a Maryland Matters fundraiser in 2022.