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Raskin defeats Trone in nation's most expensive primary

State Sen. Jamie Raskin defeated self-funded businessman David Trone and former television news anchor Kathleen Matthews in the most expensive congressional primary race in the nation — a crowded contest in Maryland’s Montgomery County-based 8th District.

On the Republican side, attorney Dan Cox, a former Town Council president from Dorchester County, defeated a field of four other candidates.

The campaign to succeed Democratic Rep. Chris Van Hollen in the district was competitive and costly. Van Hollen's decision to run for the Senate created a rare open seat.

Candidates competing for the seat spent more than $14 million since last year – more than $10 million of it by Trone, who finished second.

Trone, founder of the Total Wine & More retail stores, blanketed the district – which stretches from Montgomery County north into Frederick and Carroll counties – with television and radio ads and mailings. “We don’t take money from PACs, lobbyists or corporations,” was a prominent campaign message. His strategy included a push to win over voters who are using absentee ballots.

But Trone was competing against a crowded Democratic field that included three-term state Sen. Raskin and Matthews, the former Washington television anchor who is married to MSNBC political talk show host Chris Matthews.

Raskin, a constitutional law professor at American University, and Matthews sought to use Trone’s big spending against him.

"You are trying to buy a congressional seat, as if it's a fine bottle of wine," Matthews wrote in an "open letter" to Trone.

Others in the nine-candidate Democratic race included Del. Kumar Barve, a former majority leader in the House of Delegates who now chairs the  Environment and Transportation Committee; Del. Ana Sol Gutiérrez; Will Jawando, a former aide in the Obama administration; and Joel Rubin, a former State Department official.

Democrats enjoy a large voter registration advantage in the district, although a moderate Republican – Connie Morella – held the seat for 16 years until losing in 2002 after the district's boundary lines were redrawn following the  2000 census.

The Democrats' spending dwarfed that of the Republican candidates, who also included Liz Matory, co-founder of CNXIS Consulting, an organizational management firm; Jeffrey Jones, senior pastor at North Bethesda United Methodist Church; Aryeh Shudofsky, a financial analyst and economic policy adviser;  and Shelly Skolnick, an attorney.

Raskin won by about 7,000 votes, holding a 34 percent to 27 percent advantage over Trone. Matthews took third at 24 percent.

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