Bill Clinton raises money for Brown

The Baltimore Sun

Subbing for new grandmother Hillary Clinton on late notice, former President Bill Clinton became the star attraction Tuesday night at a fundraiser for Democratic gubernatorial candidate Anthony G. Brown at a posh estate in Potomac.

The Brown campaign said the former president helped Brown draw about 450 guests and raise more than $1.2 million for his campaign against Republican Larry Hogan in the Nov. 4 election.

Hillary Clinton, the presumed Democratic front-runner for the 2016 presidential nomination, had been the expected headliner at the big-ticket event at an estate in one of Maryland's wealthiest communities.

But the former secretary of state canceled her plans after daughter Chelsea Clinton Mezvinsky gave birth to her first child, a daughter named Charlotte, on Friday.

Bill Clinton thus became the consolation guest of honor — not that the Brown campaign was complaining.

"I am very grateful to President Clinton for changing his schedule to travel to Maryland and attend our event this evening. I appreciate and respect Secretary Clinton's decision to stay and spend time with her daughter and new granddaughter, Charlotte," Brown said in a statement released by the campaign.

It was the former president's second foray into Maryland for this year's gubernatorial campaign. Clinton also appeared at a fundraiser for Brown, an early supporter of Hillary Clinton's 2008 campaign for president, before the June 24 primary. Brown aides said he raised nearly $1 million at that event.

Hogan campaign spokesman Adam Dubitsky used the Clinton appearance to fire a salvo at Brown.

"Unlike the Clinton White House, which worked with Republicans to grow the economy, cut the deficit and create jobs, Anthony Brown is committed to extending the failed policies of one-party rule, his 40 job-killing tax hikes and reckless spending," Dubitsky said.

In addition to high-rolling donors, the event brought out a who's who of the state's elected officials.

U.S. Sens. Barbara A. Mikulski and Ben Cardin, Maryland House Speaker Michael E. Busch and Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller, and U.S. Reps. John Delaney, Dutch Ruppersberger, John Sarbanes and Donna Edwards all attended.

Gov. Martin O'Malley, a potential rival of Hillary Clinton in the 2016 Democratic primary for president, dropped in early but was seen leaving shortly before Bill Clinton arrived about 6:30 p.m.

The event — for which individual tickets cost $1,000 to $4,000 — was held at the 13,889-square-foot home of David Trone, co-owner of the Total Wine chain of liquor stores, and his wife, June. State assessment records show the home is valued at $4.1 million and has nine full and three half-bathrooms.

Busch said afterward that Clinton joked that the home made the White House look like public housing. Clinton praised Brown as a leader in the fields of health care, foster care and K-12 education, Busch said.

A platoon of valet parkers steered Mercedes-Benzes and Lexuses to parking spaces in front of nearby estates. Bright yellow shuttle vans took guests from the street and up the long, curving driveway toward a fountain that changed colors — green, red, blue and purple — as darkness fell.

Neighbor Evelyn Dirk walked past the scene with a look of wonder.

"This is the biggest Trone party I've ever seen," she said.

Asked whether having Bill Clinton as a guest in the neighborhood was a thrill, Dirk was unimpressed.

"It's not routine, but I wish it was Hillary," she said.