Trone Gives His Campaign $749K As He Starts Congressional Bid, Election Reports Show

Miller, relying on donations from fellow Indian-Americans, has $525K in bank in District 6 race


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DAVID TRONE, VIA FACEBOOK

Potomac businessman David Trone—who spent a record $13.4 million from his own pocket in an unsuccessful bid for Congress last year—is again relying heavily on personal assets as he gears up for a second try to make it to Capitol Hill.

With the June 26 primary more than eight months away, Trone has given $749,000 to his campaign, according to reports filed late Sunday with the Federal Election Commission for the third quarter of 2017.

Trone, a co-owner of Total Wine & More, in early August announced he would seek the District 6 seat now held by Rep. John Delaney, who is mounting a bid for the 2020 Democratic presidential nomination instead of seeking re-election.

This time around, Trone—who was criticized by opponents for the amount of personal wealth he sunk into last year’s District 8 congressional contest—seems determined to seek outside donors to help with the cost of the race.

The latest FEC report, covering July 1 through Sept. 30, showed Trone taking in $43,000 in outside contributions during that three-month period. That is six times as much as Trone received from outside donors all of last year, when he finished second in the Democratic primary in his bid for the District 8 Democratic nomination. He has paid $43,000 so far to two consulting firms that assist candidates in identifying donors and raising money, according to his FEC disclosure form.

Trone’s best-known rivals for the District 6 Democratic nomination, state Sen. Roger Manno of Silver Spring and state Del. Aruna Miller of Darnestown, each raised a little more than $200,000 for their respective campaigns during the third quarter.

But Miller, who started raising money last spring as Delaney was suggesting he might run for governor in 2018, has far more in the bank than her state legislative colleague.

Manno, who announced his candidacy for Congress in early August, raised a little more than $202,000 during the third quarter, leaving him with about $171,000 in his campaign treasury as of Sept. 30.

Miller reported having more than three times as much—$525,000—in the bank. She raised $204,000 in July through September, on top of $356,000 raised during the second quarter, for a total of $560,000 to date.

Miller continues to rely heavily on fellow Indian-Americans for her campaign’s financial base. In her latest report, about 80 percent of her donors were Indian-American. Of those, a significant majority were from outside Maryland, with many residents of Midwestern states such as Illinois, Michigan, and Ohio donating.

Another Democrat in the District 6 race, Potomac pediatrician Nadia Hashimi, announced her candidacy last month, and reported raising about $61,000. Mirroring Miller, Hashimi, who is Afghan-American, raised her contributions from fellow Afghan-Americans and others of South Asian descent—most of them from outside Maryland.

Hashimi reported loaning her campaign $225,000 in personal funds, giving her a campaign treasury of $281,000 as of Sept. 30.

Andrew Duck of Frederick County, his party’s nominee in District 6 in 2006 and 2010, is the only Democrat filed to run in the June 2018 primary. The filing deadline is Feb. 27.

Duck reported contributions of $1,540 during the third quarter of the year, with half of that coming from himself. He had $11,000 in his campaign treasury as of Sept. 30.

Since the 6th District was redrawn following the 2010 census—gerrymandered, Republicans charge—more than half of the district’s residents are in Montgomery County. The district stretches 200 miles from Potomac and Gaithersburg to the western edge of the Maryland Panhandle, taking in a portion of Frederick County and all of Allegany, Garrett and Washington counties.

The latest available voter registration statistics show Democrats outnumbering Republicans by about 3-2 in the 6th District, but more than 100,000 voters are unaffiliated.

On the Republican side, national security consultant Amie Hoeber of Potomac, who lost to Delaney last year, is trying again with the seat open. She has yet to publicly announce her candidacy for the 2018 contest, but is expected to do so by the end of October.

Her name recognition from having run previously in the sprawling district—which includes portions of the Washington, Baltimore and even Pittsburgh media markets—gives her an early leg up in next year’s primary.

So far, Hoeber would have three GOP primary opponents: former state Del. Matthew Mossburg of Frederick County and political newcomers Lisa Lloyd of Potomac and Bradley Rohrs of Germantown.

Hoeber—who emerged from an eight-candidate field in the 2016 Republican primary before losing to Delaney 56 percent to 40 percent—had not begun fundraising for the forthcoming campaign as of the third quarter, according to the newly released FEC reports. Her latest disclosure form showed her campaign committee raising and spending nothing during that period, with just $347 on hand as of Sept. 30.

Hoeber poured almost $800,000 of her own money into her campaign in 2016, of which $450,000 is still being carried on the books as a loan by the candidate to the committee. Her effort last year was aided by a so-called SuperPAC—an independent expenditure committee—that spent an additional $3.8 million to boost her candidacy. Virtually all of this money was donated by Hoeber’s husband, telecommunications executive Mark Epstein.

On the Democratic side, Trone’s latest report showed him spending $735,000—nearly 25 times the approximately $30,000 spent by the Manno and Miller campaigns, respectively. More than 40 percent of the spending by Trone campaign, about $300,000, went to one firm: Washington, D.C.-based Hickman Analytics, for general consulting and research. The firm, founded by veteran pollster Harrison Hickman, also worked for Trone’s 2016 campaign in the District 8 race.

According to Trone’s FEC report, some of the payments made to Hickman Analytics go as far as back as last January, when Trone said publicly that he was “focused very heavily” on a run for Montgomery County executive—while also not ruling out a congressional bid if Delaney stepped aside. Under FEC regulations, an individual may explore a candidacy without filing a report, but must file once he or she has declared and raised or spent at least $5,000; at that point, all prior expenses related to the exploration phase must be disclosed.

The $43,000 that Trone received in outside contributions includes eight business executives from Maryland and around the country who donated $2,700, the maximum that federal law allows an individual to give to a candidate per election. Included in this group was Rockville-based auto dealer Jack Fitzgerald.

Four Trone donors actually exceeded the $2,700 limit, donating a combined total of $13,100 that can be used only if Trone wins the primary and advances to the general election.

In other disclosures of interest in the latest FEC reports on District 6:

—Miller, who has been endorsed by Emily’s List, received $5,000 from the group, which is dedicated to the election of Democratic women who support abortion rights. In addition, S. Donald Sussman, a billionaire hedge fund executive who has been a major benefactor of Emily’s List, donated the $2,700 individual maximum to Miller. Sussman gave another $2,700 that can be used only if she is the nominee in the fall.

—Manno, a strong ally of organized labor, reported that one-third what he raised during the third quarter—approximately $68,000—came from political action committees tied to labor unions. Included were PACs connected to such large unions as the Communications Workers of America and the International Brotherhood of Teamsters, each of which donated the $5,000 maximum that PACs can donate to a particular candidate per election.

—Manno’s contributions also included a $500 donation from the campaign committee of fellow state Sen. Brian Feldman, who shares representation of the General Assembly’s District 15 with Miller.

In a phone interview Monday, Feldman said his donation was not intended as an endorsement of Manno’s candidacy. “It’s not accurate to interpret this as anything other than giving a Senate colleague some seed money,” said Feldman, adding that he was holding out the option of donating to other candidates in the District 6 contest as well.

Feldman and several other state Senate Democrats chipped in to Manno’s campaign following a message circulated by state Senate President Thomas V. (Mike) Miller (no relation to Aruna Miller) asking for contributions of up to $1,000 to Manno’s campaign. Mike Miller’s move came after his counterpart, House Speaker Michael Busch, endorsed Aruna Miller for Congress.

Another Democrat, state Del. Bill Frick, started raising money for a District 6 bid in April, but in late September, he left the contest and announced he would pursue a bid for his party’s nomination for county executive.

He reported raising $9,400 during the third quarter.

Including the previous quarter of the year, Frick’s congressional campaign raised a total of nearly $224,000, and his latest report shows he refunded $200,000 of that to contributors prior to Sept. 30.

Because his campaign treasury was drawn down by about $45,000 in operating expenses over the five months that he was running for Congress, Frick reported loaning his committee $22,000 in late September—money needed to refund the contributions. Less than $3,200 remained in the congressional campaign treasury as of Sept. 30.

The list of Frick’s congressional campaign donors gives him a solid base from which to raise money for his county executive bid. Under Maryland law, he will need to file a report on what he has raised for the latter contest by mid-January.

Although Hoeber did not receive any direct financial assistance in 2016 from the National Republican Congressional Committee (NRCC)—the campaign arm of U.S. House Republicans—the NRCC is expected to get involved on behalf of the GOP nominee next fall. District 6 is one of several open seats nationwide on which Republicans’ hopes of holding on to the House majority might ride in the 2018 election.

Among the other Republican primary candidates, Mossburg—who was defeated for re-election in 1998 after one term in the General Assembly from Montgomery County—initially planned an effort to return to the General Assembly next year by seeking a state Senate seat in Frederick County. But he later switched to the congressional race.

Mossburg reported raising $5,500 raised from July through September, with another $5,000 in loans, for a total of $10,500 in receipts. He said his committee spent more than $6,300, and had nearly $4,200 in cash its treasury as of Sept. 30.

Lloyd did not file a campaign committee with the FEC until mid-October. She is obligated to report contributions and expenditures in the next quarterly FEC report, which is due on Jan. 31.

Rohrs—who joined a Rockville-based real estate firm this year after previously working in real estate in the Baltimore area—has filed a declaration of candidacy with the Maryland Board of Elections. But he has yet to file a statement of candidacy or campaign committee with the FEC, according to the entity’s website.

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