WASHINGTON — After two of the most expensive U.S. House races in history, David Trone could finally exhale Thursday.
The 63-year-old executive, who recently endured a cancer scare, was sworn in as Maryland’s newest congressman.
“It’s good to get over the top,” said the Trone, a Democrat, interviewed in his relatively roomy Longworth House Office Building digs, which still have bare walls and empty bookshelves.
“I’m very competitive, and so I like winning,” he said.
Trone, whose wife, June, and four adult children joined him for the swearing-in, succeeds Democrat John Delaney, who stepped down from the 6th District seat to run for president. The district stretches from the liberal Washington suburbs of Montgomery County to conservative western Maryland.
Trone, the co-founder of Total Wine & More, defeated former Reagan administration official Amie Hoeber Nov. 6 for the state’s only open congressional seat. He spent more than $15 million in the race following an unsuccessful — and also costly — run in 2016 in the neighboring 8th District.
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During the 2018 race, he underwent surgery following an Aug. 27 announcement that he had “localized cancer” and had received chemotherapy to reduce a tumor in his urinary tract. He said afterward that doctors pronounced him cancer-free. His thick, white hair has grown back.
Trone said Thursday the experience helped influence his congressional priorities, which prominently include obtaining more funding to curb opioid abuse. His 24-year-old nephew died of a fentanyl overdose a few years ago.
“You certainly develop more empathy and understanding about all the difficulties that people have,” Trone said. “You realize how lucky you’ve been. You enjoy every day and it makes you driven — just driven — to get more done to help other folks who have had tough luck in life.”
His committees have not yet been assigned.
“I’ve got strong choices and we’re working them hard,” he said. He declined to disclose his preferences, saying “I don’t want to jinx it.”
Trone is among 85 freshmen who participated in a late November lottery to determine the order in which they would pick their offices. He drew No. 9, enabling him to select a second-floor Longworth office. At 900 square feet, his suite is larger than others for incoming members, and has a window with a wide Capitol Hill view.
“We got a single-digit lottery number and I wore my lucky Washington Capitals Stanley Cup hat” signed by star player Alex Ovechkin, he said. “I think that paid dividends.”