Maryland candidate for Congress spends $1.5M on own campaign

David Trone, the Potomac businessman running in Maryland’s open 6th Congressional District, plugged an eye-popping $1.5 million of his own money into his campaign in the final three months of last year, campaign finance reports made public Wednesday show.

Meanwhile, a first-time Democratic candidate in the state’s 1st Congressional District, Jesse Colvin, managed to outraise Republican incumbent Rep. Andy Harris — an outcome that will give Democrats a measure of cheer in what remains a solidly GOP district.

Trone, a Democrat and the co-owner of the liquor retailer Total Wine & More, briefly held a national record for self-funding when he ran in the adjacent 8th District in the 2016 cycle. This time, Trone has vowed to raise more money from donors — and he has — but more than 90 percent of his cash so far has come from his pocket.

In all, Trone raised $1.7 million in the last quarter of 2017, including $144,000 from donors. He spent just under $1 million during that period and has $787,000 in hand — although cash on hand has less meaning when a candidate can draw on personal reserves whenever needed.

Trone is running for the seat left open this year by incumbent Democratic Rep. John Delaney’s decision to seek his party’s presidential nomination. Also raising money on the Democratic side for the race are James Duck, the 2010 nominee for the seat, pediatrician Nadia Hashimi, state Sen. Roger Manno and Del. Aruna Miller.

Harris, a member of the conservative House Freedom Caucus, is widely considered safe for reelection. Though President Donald J. Trump has a low approval in Maryland overall, he captured 58 percent of the vote on the Eastern Shore. Harris won in the district in 2016 with 67 percent of the vote.

Colvin, a former consultant who completed four deployments in Afghanistan with the U.S. Army, raised $220,000 in the last quarter of the year — all of it from donors — and had $186,000 on hand. Harris, a four-term lawmaker who served as a medical officer in the Naval Reserve, raised $157,000 but had significantly more on hand: $1.1 million.

Colvin said in a statement that he is “incredibly proud” of the campaign and that voters frequently tell him they “are sick and tired of career politicians such as Andy Harris and Washington’s broken political system.” A campaign spokeswoman for Harris could not be reached for comment.

The other Democrats raising money for the race, Allison Galbraith and Michael Pullen, each raised less than $40,000.

For now, through, most eyes will stay focused on the open seat in the 6th District.

Miller, a Montgomery County traffic engineer, has continued to post fundraising that would look hefty by comparison in other House districts. She brought in just over $300,000 from October through the year’s end — more than Trone raised from donors — and kept spending to a minimum, almost matching Trone’s cash on hand with $752,000.

Manno, who has been scooping up labor endorsements and donations, raised $83,055 from contributors and loaned his campaign an additional $72,000. That is significantly less than the $202,000 he raised from donors in the third quarter of last year.

Manno had $285,000 on hand at the end of the year.

Hashimi raised just over $112,000 and had $349,000 put away, which included the proceeds of a loan she gave to herself shortly after entering the race.

Duck brought in $21,719, which included a $20,000 loan to himself.

Trone’s numbers, while perhaps not surprising, could have a number of impacts on the race, arguably the most important federal contest in the state this year. First, it suggests he’ll run a similar playbook to 2016, throwing up a barrage of television and radio advertisements in the pricey Washington media market. It also could cool donors and outside groups such as Emily’s List, which has backed Miller, from engaging in the primary financially.

The numbers were less illustrative on the Republican side.

Defense consultant Amie Hoeber, who was the GOP nominee for the seat in 2016, brought in $118,000 — about half of which she gave to herself — and had $50,143 in the bank. But Hoeber has previously shown a willingness to self-fund. In 2016 she was heavily backed by a super PAC, funded almost entirely by her husband. It’s not yet clear whether a similar arrangement will be set up this time, or whether she will need to spend much to win the primary.

No other Republican candidates reported raising significant money.

The Sixth District includes heavily Democratic portions of Montgomery and Frederick counties as well as the deeply Republican, but less populated, Maryland panhandle. The First District the Eastern Shore and portions of Baltimore’s northern suburbs.

john.fritze@baltsun.com

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