David Trone Checks His Privilege After 'Mistakenly' Using Racial Slur To Attack Republicans

David Trone (House Budget Committee GOP/YouTube).
March 22, 2024

Rep. David Trone, the Democratic frontrunner in the battle for Maryland’s open Senate seat, is in hot water for using a racist slur to attack Republicans during a hearing Thursday.

Trone used the notorious racist term as he bantered with Office of Budget and Management director Shalanda Young, a black woman, during a House Budget Committee on President Joe Biden’s 2025 budget request. Trone said Republican concerns that higher corporate tax rates would damper business investment were nonsense, claiming that taxes were not even a remote concern for him when he made business decisions for Total Wine, his multibillion-dollar liquor retail chain, before being elected to Congress in 2019.

"So this Republican jigaboo that it’s the tax rate that’s stopping business investment, it’s just completely faulty by people who have never run a business," Trone said. "They’ve never been there. They don’t have a clue what they’re talking about."

"Jigaboo," according to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, is an "insulting and contemptuous term for a black person" that dates back to the early 1900s.

Hours after the hearing concluded, Trone issued a groveling apology to the Washington Post for his "mistaken" use of the phrase, which he said he had never heard of before his Thursday discussion with Biden’s black budget director.

"Today while attempting to use the word bugaboo in a hearing, I misspoke and mistakenly used a phrase that is offensive," Trone told the Washington Post. "Upon learning the meaning of the word I was deeply disappointed to have accidentally used it, and I apologize."

Trone wasn’t finished. Later on Thursday, he issued an expanded statement acknowledging the slur’s "long dark terrible history," and said that he, as a privileged white man, should have known better than to use such a term.

"It should never be used any time, anywhere, in any conversation," Trone said. "I recognize that as a white man, I have privilege. And as an elected official, I have a responsibility for the words I use—especially in the heat of the moment. Regardless of what I meant to say, I shouldn’t have used that language."

Black activists didn’t buy Trone’s explanation. Reecie Colbert, a Democratic strategist and SiriusXM radio host, suggested Trone is intimately familiar with the racial slur due to the ease with which he uttered it during Thursday’s hearing.

"Be [f—] for real," Colbert said in a post on X. "The way he has been portraying himself as a racial justice warrior savior of the [Blacks]…that doesn’t square with not knowing the term. As a millennial Black girl who has said bugaboo fifty-leven times…jig never slipped in there."

"Even if I concede that he meant bugaboo…the way that jiga rolled off the tongue so easily without him even flinching makes his claim he didn’t know the jiga term hard to believe," Colbert added. "It definitely gave familiar with it to me."

Trone’s racist slip could come back to bite him as he prepares to take on former Maryland governor Larry Hogan (R.) for the state’s open Senate seat. Though Trone has a sizable lead in the Democratic primary, a new poll this week found Hogan beating Trone by double digits.

Democrats have had a lock on Maryland’s two Senate seats for over four decades. The state last elected a Republican senator in 1980.