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Rep. David Trone announces campaign for Senate in Maryland

<i>Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call/Getty Images</i><br/>Maryland Rep. David Trone
CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty Imag
Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call/Getty Images
Maryland Rep. David Trone

By Simone Pathe, CNN

Maryland Rep. David Trone, who’s poured millions of his own money into his congressional campaigns, is announcing his Senate candidacy on Thursday, accelerating what will likely be a competitive Democratic primary for the seat of retiring Sen. Ben Cardin.

His announcement video opens with a ticking clock and Trone rattling off statistics about deaths from overdoses and mental illness and racial inequity in the criminal justice system.

“Is any of this acceptable to you? To anyone? Not to me,” the congressman says.

Montgomery County Councilmember Will Jawando launched his bid earlier this week, and other big names like Rep. Jamie Raskin could also be in the mix for the Democratic nomination. The general election isn’t likely to be competitive in a state that President Joe Biden carried by 33 points in 2020. That means the real action will play out in the primary, which will help take the temperature of the Democratic electorate in 2024.

Cardin, the chair of the Small Business Committee and second-ranking Democrat on the Foreign Relations Committee, announced Monday that he would not run for reelection in 2024. Having held the seat since 2006, his departure is providing an opening for ambitious Democrats in a blue state. There’s plenty of time for would-be candidates to enter the race — Maryland’s filing deadline is February 9, 2024.

Trone, the owner and co-founder of Total Wine & More, could bring significant personal resources to the race. He loaned $12,552,000 to his 2022 campaign for Maryland’s 6th District, according to the Federal Election Commission — more than any other House candidate in the country. He won reelection last fall by about 10 points in a district Biden carried by about a similar margin in 2020.

His history of self-funding is longstanding. When he first won the nomination for the 6th District in 2018, he spent nearly $12 million of his own money — slightly less than the record he set in 2016 for a House candidate self-funding when he spent $13 million to try to secure the nomination in the 8th District. (He came up short against Raskin.)

Despite that personal wealth, Trone spotlights humble beginnings in his Senate announcement video, talking about how his family’s farm was seized by the bank.

“I know what it’s like to struggle,” he says. “I learned there’s no shame in asking for help, but there is in not helping.”

He touts his record as an employer and calls out “an unfair criminal justice system.” He also highlights his rejection of corporate PAC and lobbyist contributions, which has become a litmus test in some Democratic primaries in recent cycles. In Congress, he helped form the Bipartisan Mental Health and Substance Use Disorder Task Force.

Trone brought in $185,013 in the first quarter of this year, which ended on March 31. But that included a $150,000 personal loan. He entered the second quarter with about $171,000 in the bank.

Jawando, who announced his candidacy on Tuesday with a message about economic equality, served as an associate director of the White House Office of Public Engagement in the Obama administration and later as an adviser to then-Education Secretary Arne Duncan.

“There’s a big lie in America, but it’s not about Donald Trump,” Jawando says in his announcement video. “The real big lie, the one you feel everyday, that pits neighbors against neighbors, is the one that says for me to do well, you have to do worse.”

“I’m running for Senate because I believe we can build a shared prosperity in Maryland that lifts everyone up,” he concludes.

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