Prince George’s County Executive Rushern Baker is experiencing a rapid backlash against his endorsement of wealthy businessman David Trone in his bid for the Democratic nomination for the Sixth Congressional District.
Baker announced his support for Trone two days ago. Today, the Washington Post reported that Trone, his family members and company have donated a total of $39,000 to Baker’s gubernatorial campaign. My own quick scan of Rushern Baker’s latest campaign finance filing revealed the following donations:
David Trone, $6000, 10/5/17;
Julia Trone, $2000, 11/16/17;
June Trone, $6000, 10/5/17;
Michelle Trone, $6000, 11/5/17;
Natalie Trone, $2000, 11/16/17;
Natalie Trone, $3000, 11/16/17;
Robert Trone, $2000, 11/16/17;
Anna-Marie Parisi-Trone, $6000, 11/16/17;
Anna-Marie Parisi-Trone, $6000, 11/16/17.
While David, June, and Robert Trone are described as affiliated with Total Wine, Natalie Trone is listed as a student and Michelle Trone with The Boston Consulting Group (BCG). All of the donations were made in October or November of last year.
Problems for Baker
There is certainly no proof of pay-to-play or corruption. Indeed, Baker has been a welcome breath of fresh air on that front in Prince George’s after the disastrous Johnson years. However, Baker’s decision to endorse in a race outside of Prince George’s has raised eyebrows.
In particular, I heard that senior women in the General Assembly are especially annoyed at Baker’s decision to endorse in the race when there was an experienced, talented and respected female legislator, Del. Aruna Miller, in the race. Baker’s wading into the race surprised many, as the Sixth does not overlap with Prince George’s.
Today, that frustration emerged more publicly in the form of a wave of endorsements of Miller’s campaign by her colleagues, especially many senior women. Miller’s campaign issued a press release (see below) touting support from:
Speaker Michael Busch,
Speaker Pro Tem Adrienne Jones,
Chair Emerita Sheila Hixson,
Appropriations Committee Chair Maggie McIntosh,
Environment and Transportation Committee Chair Kumar Barve, Ways and Means Committee Chair Anne Kaiser,
Health and Government Committee Chair Shane Pendergrass, Judiciary Committee Chair Joe Vallario,
Judiciary Committee Vice-Chair Kathleen Dumais,
Appropriations Committee Vice-Chair Tawanna Gaines,
Women’s Caucus Chair Ariana Kelly
It will be interesting to see if this backlash impedes Baker’s efforts to reach further outside the County. Similarly, I’m curious to see if Montgomery County Executive Ike Leggett, a strong Baker supporter, endorses a candidate in the Sixth District. Unlike Baker, Leggett has long had constituents in the Sixth.
Problems for Trone
Baker’s endorsement has also revived talk of Trone’s use of his wealth. Two years ago, Trone told the press bluntly, “I sign my checks to buy access.” Indeed, former Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell’s lawyers cited this statement in their brief appealing McDonnell’s corruption conviction. County Councilmember George Leventhal also needled Trone regarding his gaffe.
Now, as Michael Kinsley once said, a gaffe is simply when a politician speaks the truth out loud. Trone was forthright and honest on this point, in a manner similar to Donald Trump in presidential bid. But the similarities to Trump and the current concerns regarding the corruption of American politics are hardly likely to endear him to Democratic primary voters.