Democrat David Trone wins Maryland's open U.S. House seat in state's most expensive race

Democrat David Trone, who spent more than $15 million in Maryland’s most expensive congressional race, won the election for the 6th District seat Tuesday, two years after being defeated in a neighboring district.

Trone, the co-founder of Total Wine & More, was vying against former Reagan administration official Amie Hoeber for the state’s only open congressional seat. The incumbent, Democrat John Delaney, is stepping down to run for president in 2020.

The state’s seven other incumbent U.S. House members won re-election. The delegation’s only Republican, Baltimore County Rep. Andy Harris, defeated Democrat Jesse Colvin.

Hoeber was unable to overcome a huge advantage by Trone in early voting.

"Campaigns are hard-fought,” Trone told supporters in Gaithersburg. “But now is the time that we’ve got to pull together as Democrats, Republicans together. If we don’t pull together, we aren’t going to be able to pull this country forward, are we?"

Hoeber, in Frederick, said the results “aren’t all in, but it certainly doesn’t look like I’m likely to win at this point.”

The politically diverse 6th District district stretches from the liberal Washington suburbs of Montgomery County to conservative western Maryland.

Trone, 63, ran for Congress in 2016 in the 8th District. He attracted attention by spending about $14 million, but lost to Jamie Raskin in the Democratic primary.

This time, Federal Election Commission reports show he spent $15.8 million as of Oct. 17, after contributing $12.7 million to his campaign and lending it an additional $3.2 million. Trone said his mostly self-financed campaign will enable him to be independent of special interests when in Congress.

He said his priorities include preserving health insurance for people with pre-existing conditions and more comprehensive funding to combat the opioid epidemic. Trone’s 24-year-old nephew died of a fentanyl overdose a few years ago.

Live results: 2018 general election in Maryland »

Trone’s campaign said in September that he had a successful operation for cancer. He had previously undergone chemotherapy to reduce a tumor in his urinary tract.

Hoeber, who lost a bid for the 6th District seat in 2016, accused Trone of trying "to buy" the office.

FEC records show she accepted more than $1 million from two political action committees, including one in which her husband — Qualcomm Inc. executive Mark Epstein — is a major contributor.

Hoeber, 76, said she was politically aligned with Republican Gov. Larry Hogan and appeared with him during campaign events.

Trone and Hoeber live in the 8th District, but there’s no law preventing them from running in or representing the 6th.

Harris, 61, an anesthesiologist, is a member of the conservative House Freedom Caucus.

He won his fifth term in the 1st District, which is made up of parts of the counties of Baltimore, Carroll and Harford, as well as the Eastern Shore.

Harris said after his victory: “The bottom line is that we made the argument to the people of the 1st congressional district that we’ve taken care of the issues that are important to them. We’ve talked about those issues, we took no vote for granted.”

Colvin faced an uphill fight in the district, which gave Republican President Donald Trump 64 percent of the vote in 2016.

“We were the hardest-working campaign in the United States in this cycle,” Colvin told supporters Tuesday night in Easton.

Colvin, 34, an Army Ranger who served four combat tours in Afghanistan, said the election was a “referendum” on Harris, whom he accused of failing to stand up to protect people’s health insurance.

Harris denied that he abandoned support for people with pre-existing conditions and countered that Colvin was out of step with the district on gun control. Colvin backed universal background checks, a ban on bump stocks and “red flag” laws to keep firearms from people considered safety risks.

In other congressional races, Democratic Rep. Elijah Cummings defeated Republican challenger Richmond Davis in the 7th district, Democratic Rep. John Sarbanes topped Republican Charles Anthony in the 3rd, and Democratic Rep. C.A. Dutch Ruppersberger was the victor over Republican Liz Matory in the 2nd. Democratic Rep. Anthony Brown defeated Republican George McDermott in the 4th, Raskin downed Republican John Walsh in the 8th, and Democratic Rep. Steny Hoyer won over Republican William Devine in the 5th.

Full coverage: 2018 general election in Maryland »

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