David Trone's $62 Million Senate Campaign Implodes in Loss to Dem Challenger

Rep. David Trone (X/@davidjtrone)
May 14, 2024

Maryland Rep. David Trone’s exorbitant Senate primary bid imploded Tuesday evening as the booze tycoon fell to Prince George's County executive Angela Alsobrooks.

Trone, the co-owner of the $2.4 billion liquor retail chain Total Wine, poured $61.8 million of his own money into his primary campaign. But Maryland Democratic primary voters weren’t convinced by the deluge of Trone campaign ads that have flooded the airwaves for months. Alsobrooks led Trone by 9 points when the Associated Press called the contest.

Alsobrooks will go on to face former Maryland governor Larry Hogan (R.) in November in a contest that could determine which party controls the Senate in 2025.

Few expected Maryland, which last elected a Republican senator in 1980, to be in play for the GOP. But Hogan’s entrance in the race in February changed the electoral calculus. A popular two-term Republican governor in a blue state, Hogan left office in 2023 with a 77 percent approval rating among Marylanders.

Hogan’s popularity has endured into 2024, according to some polls. Though Democrats outnumber Republicans 2 to 1 in Maryland, a Baltimore Sun poll in April found Alsobrooks trailing the former Republican governor by 18 points.

Democrats will likely have to devote significant resources to support Alsobrooks in her campaign against Hogan. Trone had pledged to continue self funding his campaign if he won the primary, and signaled that he would have spent "whatever it takes" to defeat Hogan.

Trone held a large lead over Alsobrooks as recently as February, but his fortunes turned following a series of gaffes that alienated himself from portions of the Democratic base.

In March, Trone used the term "jigaboo," a racial slur, during a March hearing with the African-American director of the Office of Management and Budget, Shalanda Young. The incident led several members of the Congressional Black Caucus to endorse Alsobrooks.

Trone also faced Democratic backlash for belittling Alsobrooks, a black woman, as an inexperienced politician unprepared for the rigors of the Senate. He denounced her state-level endorsements as coming from "low-level folks" and cut a campaign ad featuring comments from a supporter saying the Senate "is not the place for training wheels."

Several former Democratic state party chairs criticized Trone in the final weeks of the primary campaign for his negative tone towards Alsobrooks and warned his conduct could come back to haunt him come November, WTOP reported.

"David Trone has cast disparaging comments about women, inadvertently uttered racial slurs, and has denigrated public service. He will be challenged in building the statewide unity that is needed to win in November," Maryland Democratic officials said in a statement.

The source of Trone’s personal wealth, which he used to bankroll his primary campaign, was also a thorn in his side in the final weeks of the contest. He promised after he won his first House term in 2018 that he would step away from the daily operations of his Total Wine business empire. But a Washington Free Beacon investigation found that Trone has maintained extensive involvement in his family business during his three terms in Congress. The Trone campaign refused to say if he would relinquish his roles with the company if elected to the Senate.