Tag Archives: David Trone

Lost in Potomac: Stuart Rothenberg Eviscerates the Trone Campaign

National Political Pundit Stuart Rothenberg wrote a devastating account of his meeting David Trone:

Maryland Democrat David Trone, who is running for Congress in the 6th Congressional District, came to my Potomac community to talk about his candidacy – and he brought plenty of wine for residents to sample while they chatted with neighbors before turning their attention to the candidate. . . .

What made all the politicking odd is that my community is not in the 6th District but rather in the 8th, currently represented by Democrat Jamie Raskin, who beat Trone in the Democratic primary last year. In other words, Trone touted his credentials, talked about his views and supplied wine to a roomful of people who could not vote for him next year.

Oops.

But it gets even worse:

[My] second question involved my doubts that he is suited to being a lowly freshman who would have little influence. I noted his self-funding and his previous race, as well as the fact that he had flirted with running for county executive before deciding on a second race for Congress. I also noted that his earlier comments about leadership, about the county government and about his experiences in the private sector suggested he would be more effective in an executive position.

Trone seemed to dislike the question. He turned away from me and addressed others in the audience, insisting that his wealth was an asset not a liability, emphasizing that he would be politically independent, and promising that he could bring change. He was passionate, certainly, but he didn’t address my concerns about his temperament, district-shopping and suitability for a legislative office.

Trone took another question but suddenly had to run. He never stressed his Democratic label, instead embracing the “no labels” movement in response to a question and talking about his pro-business bent.

Running as the “no labels” candidate in a Democratic primary gives the impression that he thinks he has it sewn up. No voter likes being taken for granted or having his questions given the “talk to the hand” treatment–something you would think someone who runs a business with excellent customer service would know.

Rothenberg concluded his analysis with some sage advice for Trone:

His odds will improve if he campaigns among voters who actually live in the district where he is running.

I’d be glad I owned a liquor store after reading this piece.

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Delaney Dominoes

By Adam Pagnucco.

From the perspective of political blogging (which we all know matters most!), Congressman John Delaney is the greatest Maryland politician of all time.  That’s not because of anything he has done in Congress.  (No one does anything in Congress these days!)  It’s because his decision-making has affected the races for Governor, Congress District 6, County Executive, County Council and several State Senate and House of Delegates seats.  This is an enormous bonanza for political junkies and will keep us VERY busy.  We love you, John Delaney!

Here’s a quick and dirty take on how the Delaney Dominoes are falling.

Governor

None of the Democratic candidates for Governor fit Delaney’s ideological center-left positioning.  Baltimore County Executive Kevin Kamenetz, who can claim that his jurisdiction has not increased either property or income taxes in twenty-five years, might come closest.  But the biggest impact of Delaney’s absence may be geographic.  With the Congressman out and former Attorney General Doug Gansler not showing signs of serious activity, Senator Rich Madaleno might be the only MoCo candidate in the race.  That’s a big deal.  If Madaleno consolidates MoCo while three African American candidates run hard in the City and Prince George’s, this race becomes very unpredictable.  (Disclosure: your author has done work for Madaleno.)

Congress District 6

Total Wine co-owner David Trone has been interviewing elected officials, activists, operatives and other local players for months as he figures out his options.  Our hunch is that he will see Delaney’s congressional district as his best play and run there.  He will join Delegates Bill Frick and Aruna Miller, Senator Roger Manno and former Democratic nominee Andrew Duck on the Democratic side.  The Republicans should have a vigorous primary too as they have a real shot at the open seat.

County Executive

If Trone runs for Congress, that will leave three term-limited Council Members – Roger Berliner, Marc Elrich and George Leventhal – as the only Democrats running for Executive at this moment.  But given the fact that most Democrats voted for term limits and anti-tax sentiment continues to linger, it’s hard to believe that a non-Council Member will not get in.  Trone’s absence creates a void that could very well get filled.

County Council

County Council candidates will all sigh in relief if Trone runs for Congress.  That’s because there have been rumors of a Trone Slate for months in which Trone would deposit his own money in a slate account to be drawn on by allied council candidates.  With that possibility off the table, the at-large candidates are on their own.   Since most are in public financing, it’s unlikely that very many of them will accumulate large financial advantages of 3-to-1 to 4-to-1 over their nearest rivals.  That makes for very competitive races in District 1 and at-large.

State Legislative Districts

If Miller, Frick and Manno stay in the race for Congress until the end, that means there will be open seats in Districts 15, 16 and 19.  In District 15, the recent custom has been for the incumbents to pick a new candidate to fill out their slate.  (That is a big reason why Miller originally won her seat in 2010.)  The question is whether any new candidate merits such a selection.  A District 16 open seat race is like an Italian Sunday dinner: everyone shows up.  An open seat in 2010 attracted thirteen candidates and an open seat in 2014 attracted eight candidates.  There will be no rest for Delegates Ariana Kelly and Marc Korman!  Manno’s Senate seat will draw the interest of at least one Delegate, thereby creating at least one House opening.  There are already three non-incumbents who have filed for the District 19 House seats with more probably on the way.

Add the above to actual or possible races in Council District 3, Legislative District 17 (House and maybe Senate), Legislative District 18 (House and Senate), Legislative District 20 (maybe House) and Legislative District 39 (House) and that makes 2018 the most politically active year in MoCo in decades.  Enjoy folks, and remember to thank John Delaney the next time you see him!

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Could Anyone Stop David Trone in CD6?

By Adam Pagnucco.

The future plans of Congressman John Delaney remain unclear, but that has not stopped some potential candidates from expressing interest in his seat.  Two have filed paperwork to start raising money – Delegates Bill Frick (D-16) and Aruna Miller (D-15).  It’s time to examine what a potential open seat race in Congressional District 6 might look like.

Let’s begin by asking the obvious question: could anyone stop David Trone?

Trone, a co-owner of Total Wine and second-place finisher in the 2016 CD8 Democratic primary, is known to be looking at races for both Montgomery County Executive and CD6.  Trone shares certain characteristics with Delaney: both are successful, center-left businessmen who live in Potomac and have been active political contributors at the national level before running for office.  Delaney’s 25-point victory in 2012 over establishment favorite Senator Rob Garagiola (D-15) is no doubt encouraging to Trone because it provides a model for his own potential candidacy.  So far, five Montgomery County state legislators – Frick, Miller, Delegates Kirill Reznik (D-19) and Andrew Platt (D-17) and Senator Roger Manno (D-19) – have told the Sun that they would consider running in CD6.  There may be others as well as several Republicans.  But let’s start with the MoCo Five.  How do they compare to Trone?

Money

This is the elephant in the room.  Trone set a record for a self-funding candidate for Congress last year.  Here is how his potential MoCo rivals stack up to him in lifetime campaign receipts.

Money doesn’t make Trone invincible.  Senator Jamie Raskin (D-20) raised $2 million in the CD8 primary, was outspent by Trone by more than 6-1 and still defeated him by 7 points.  But money is a big advantage for Trone and none of these MoCo legislators has proven that they can raise anywhere near as much money as Raskin.

Geography

Unlike Trone, the five MoCo legislators represent legislative districts and presumably have relationships with their constituents.  Here is the number of Democratic voters in the portions of their districts that overlapped with CD6 during the last mid-term primary, which occurred in 2014.

None of these legislators represents a dominant share of CD6’s Democratic electorate.  Two of them – Miller (20%) and Reznik (16%) – represent a larger share of CD6 than Raskin did of CD8 (14%).  But Raskin’s in-district supporters were intensely invested in him and he was able to reach into other districts through many surrogates.  These legislators would have to do something similar in order to acquire an advantage over the others.

Now, what of the 43% of CD6 Democratic voters who do not live in any of these districts?  Aside from the handful who reside in four precincts in Legislative District 14, they live in the district’s four Western Maryland counties.  In the CD8 primary, Trone won absolute majorities of the vote in both Carroll and Frederick Counties.  Trone also won pluralities in Damascus, Gaithersburg, Glenmont/Norbeck, Potomac and Rockville.  The implication is clear: if each of these legislators gets in and holds most of their home territory, Trone could still win by running up big margins in Western Maryland and picking up pockets of votes in UpCounty MoCo.  Let’s remember that MANY of these residents were exposed to Trone’s millions of dollars in broadcast TV commercials last year.

Electoral Experience

Most of Trone’s potential rivals have not won an intense, hard-fought election like last year’s race in CD8.  Frick and Reznik were originally appointed to their seats.  Miller was inducted onto the District 15 incumbents’ slate in 2010 prior to winning an open Delegate seat.  The exception is Manno, who withstood some of the most depraved political attacks in recent MoCo history when he took out incumbent Senator Mike Lenett (D-19).  But CD6 is much larger than D19 and the potential reach of Manno’s prodigious door knocking – his favorite campaign tactic – is in question.

And then there is Trone himself.  After three months of all-out campaigning, Trone eclipsed a field of initially better-known candidates to finish on the brink of victory.  Our interview with Trone last year is instructive.  As a self-made man, Trone has a swagger that is off-putting to some who meet him.  But he has also endured significant tragedy and failure in his life that was key to his later triumphs.  Trone has an almost preternatural ability to reflect, learn and adapt.  His cover picture on Twitter even advises visitors to “Try Things… Get Comfortable with Failure.”

The thought of a wiser, more experienced and more strategic Trone should inspire dread in potential opponents.

And yet, Trone can be beaten.  Let’s look at the man who did it.  Jamie Raskin started out as one of MoCo’s best-ever challengers when he defeated twenty-year incumbent District 20 Senator Ida Ruben.  He spent the next ten years building progressive networks at both the national and local levels.  The former helped him raise millions of dollars; the latter gave him a grass-roots army that has been seldom seen in this county.  No prospective CD6 candidate checks all those boxes.

It will take two things to stop Trone if he runs for an open seat in CD6.  First, most of the MoCo legislators mentioned in the Sun would have to not run, thereby giving the remaining candidates room for electoral growth.  And second, one of Trone’s rivals would have to run the race of his or her life, far exceeding previous performances.

Raskin proved that it can be done.  But can it be done again?

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Poll Launched in CD6

By Adam Pagnucco.

A poll has been commissioned in Congressional District 6.  Congressman John Delaney currently represents the district, but he is considering a run for Governor and many potential candidates are mulling a run for what would be his open seat.  The pollster called Merry Eisner Heidorn, a former General Assembly staffer and school board candidate, and she kindly provided details of the call.

The call was made by a live caller and lasted twenty minutes.  The first three minutes collected demographic information, including age, gender, zip code, county and party.  This was followed by questions on voting tendency, including whether the respondent understood what primaries were, voted for candidates or only on party label, had voted in gubernatorial as well as presidential elections, intended to vote in the 2018 primary and had voted in past primaries.  Then the caller asked about the respondent’s opinions on Donald Trump, Larry Hogan, the economy and other issues.

Next, the caller asked, “So if John Delaney runs for Governor, would you support his run for Governor?”  This was followed by five to seven minutes of favorability questions on three potential candidates to succeed him – Total Wine co-owner David Trone, State Senator Roger Manno (D-19) and Delegate Bill Frick (D-16).  The caller then zeroed in on Trone, asking about a series of issues pertaining to him and then asking how each impacted the respondent’s favorability towards Trone and the likelihood to vote for him.  The specific issues raised about Trone included the fact that he had never held office, had contributed money on behalf of his business to politicians of both parties, had run for office before and was a “successful businessman from Potomac.”  At the conclusion of the call, the pollster asked, “Now that we have talked about David Trone, has your desire to vote for him changed?”

This is a fairly standard bio- and message-testing poll.  The pollster is attempting to gauge support for a possible run in CD6 both across the entire sample and among a number of key sub-groups.  Trone is known to be considering a run in CD6 and has polled previously on the Montgomery County Executive race.  This poll along with Trone’s establishment of campaign office space will fuel further speculation on what race, if any, he will enter.  The entire Montgomery County political class is watching.

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Possible CD6 Candidates Gather in Western Maryland

By Adam Pagnucco.

With District 6 Congressman John Delaney telling the Sun he is considering a race for Governor and Delegate Bill Frick (D-16) starting a Congressional campaign account, the chatter around CD6 is picking up.  And that chatter is going to reach a fever pitch at the end of the month.

That’s because the Western Maryland Democratic PAC is holding a “summit” event in Flintstone on April 28 and 29.  The event (which requires registration) is described as “charting a progressive course in Western Maryland.”  And top billing in the email announcement goes to two familiar names: Baltimore County Executive Kevin Kamenetz and Total Wine co-owner David Trone.

Kamenetz, of course, is running for Governor.  But what of Trone?  His website says he is considering a run for Montgomery County Executive.  But his attendance at the Western Maryland event (and the money he must have contributed to be listed as a “Presenting Sponsor”) suggests that he is keeping a CD6 option open.  Trone’s self-funding capacity allows him significant timetable flexibility.

But that’s not all.  The solicitation states that Delegate Frick and Senator Roger Manno (D-19) will also be attending.  Manno is a labor favorite and is known to be interested in the CD6 seat.

Congratulations to the Western Maryland Democratic PAC for setting up such a juicy event.  Get your tickets here, folks!

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Leventhal Trolls Trone

By Adam Pagnucco.

Council Member George Leventhal, who is running for County Executive, is running the ad below on Facebook.  While ostensibly directed at President Donald Trump, it’s an obvious shot at a possible campaign opponent, Total Wine co-owner David Trone.

Leventhal has gone after Trone before, blasting him for illegal campaign signs and corporate contributions.  The latter charge is ironic considering Leventhal’s taking of more than $300,000 in corporate contributions over the last three cycles.

Negative campaigning has a long, LONG history in Montgomery County.  But it’s a bit unusual to target a person who is not yet officially running.  In any event, it is now crystal clear that if David Trone does run for Executive, George Leventhal will be ready.

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Trone Running Ads on Twitter

By Adam Pagnucco.

A Seventh State reader sent us a screenshot of a Twitter ad run by Total Wine co-owner and former CD8 Congressional candidate David Trone in the early hours of March 16.  The reader does not follow Trone’s account and the term “promoted” at the bottom of the screenshot clearly indicates its status as an ad.

Trone is known to be considering a future candidacy.  He told Bethesda Magazine’s Lou Peck that he is “focused very heavily right now” on looking at a race for Montgomery County Executive.  He has polled on the race at least once and says openly on his website that he is exploring it.  The Twitter ad joins this evidence to suggest that Trone could very well be on the ballot again.

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Leventhal and Trone Duke It Out: Both Lose

George Leventhal and David Trone, two prospective candidates for county executive in 2018, made comments seemingly designed to make news–and they did in Bethesda Beat–as they debated the issue of pay-to-play politics. Leventhal charged that Trone’s contributions amount to pay-for-pay politics while Trone called Leventhal “a fool, F-O-O-L, and a bully.”

Trone’s Contradictory Statements

Leventhal’s attack centered on Trone’s political contributions:

“[T]he Trone brothers made enormous political contributions in order to get access to the Wisconsin market for their product,” Leventhal said. “They’re indicative of just one trend in the industry of paying off politicians to get what they want. The Trones have done that over a long period of time.”

Indeed, during his congressional campaign, Trone admitted bluntly “I sign my checks to buy access.” Now, he’s trying to walk it back:

Trone said he and his brother make donations to elected officials whom they believe have an interest in furthering “the common good” and who support economic initiatives that benefit the consumer.

Not Leventhal’s Best Issue Either

Leventhal attacks Trone for making supposedly corrupting donations to buy access. However, Leventhal has accepted hundreds of thousands of dollars of campaign contributions from business:

Leventhal says that he has never allowed any contributor to “buy access” but is well known for his support of development interests. While he contends otherwise, Leventhal’s situation is no different from that of any other person who accepted money from the Trone brothers.

Now, George Leventhal sidesteps this past showering in funds from business and touts his participation in the public campaign finance system as evidence of new purity:

“That’s precisely why I’m so delighted to participate in the public finance system,” Leventhal said. “That option wasn’t available to me previously, but I believe it will take the influence of big money out of politics.”

Except that not all of his colleagues took as much “big money” in the past as Leventhal. Marc Elrich, another rival for county executive, received very little from business. The 32% share of Elrich’s contributions from individual donations under $150 was also twice as high as the 16% of Leventhal’s contributions.

Leventhal’s Lurch Left

Following the debate on raising the minimum wage, this is now the second issue in a very short period on which George Leventhal has hugged Marc Elrich tightly. Abandoning his past business ties, Leventhal touts a $15/hour minimum wage with the fervor of a convert, and regularly plugs his embrace of public financing.

The strategy of imprinting himself in the media as the true progressive tribune is not a bad one. In recent weeks, his combination of abrasive outspokenness has gained him more media attention than his rivals. As Trump showed in the Republican primary, that can work wonders.

On the other hand, Leventhal has a long record. Will his new embrace of a much higher minimum wage and attacks on major campaign contributions gain him progressive support? Or will it just leave primary voters wondering why they should vote for mini-Marc when Marc is also on the ballot?

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David Trone Polling for County Executive Race

By Adam Pagnucco.

Total Wine co-owner and former Eighth Congressional District Candidate David Trone launched a poll this week on a potential race for Montgomery County Executive.  Following is a description of the poll’s questions from a resident who was called.

*****

Favorable/Unfavorable
David Trone
Roger Berliner
Mike Knapp
George Leventhal
Nancy Floreen
Marc Elrich
Rich Madaleno
Craig Rice
Ben Kramer

Rate Doug Duncan as County Executive

Ike Leggett is ineligible.  So, for whom would you vote if the primary was held today… (see above list).

Who would be your 2nd choice.

Who would be your 3rd choice.

Who would be your 4th choice.

How seriously would you consider voting for (see above list)? Very – Not at all seriously.

ISSUES: Very concerned, etc.
Transportation, Roads and Traffic
Available affordable housing
Special interests in government
Taxes
Education
Jobs

What kind of candidate would you prefer?
Take time to get people to work together for solutions / Someone who takes charge to get things done quickly.

Montgomery County needs to grow / Too much growth right now.

A candidate who accepts public financing / A candidate who funds his own campaign.

Career politician / Businessman new to politics.

Make some changes / Shake things up.

Three statements about David Trone:  Very persuasive, somewhat persuasive…not at all persuasive.
Grew up on farm that went broke, Wharton, Total Wine.

Montgomery County potential wasted by insider politics and politicians interested in helping their friends.

In business, David Trone has focused on practical issues and solutions while politicians argue about politics.

Takes no money from corporations and would accept no donation of more than $500 per person.

Final ballot (names from above list).

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CD8 Primary Election Results, Part Four

A guest blog by Adam Pagnucco.

Let’s put together the previous three parts and look in detail at the strengths and weaknesses of the top three candidates.

Senator Jamie Raskin

Strongest Performances

Takoma Park: 64.2% (1st)

Legislative District 20: 51.9% (1st)

Silver Spring Inside the Beltway: 49.9% (1st)

Inside the Beltway: 47.9% (1st)

Montgomery County Council District 5: 47.2% (1st)

Chevy Chase: 45.5% (1st)

Cabin John: 41.6% (1st)

Bethesda: 41.3% (1st)

Montgomery County Council District 1: 41.3% (1st)

Legislative District 16: 40.6% (1st)

Weakest Performances

Derwood: 11.0% (3rd)

Carroll County Total Votes: 12.0% (3rd)

Damascus: 12.5% (3rd)

Frederick County Total Votes: 12.7% (3rd)

White Population Over 90%: 13.6% (3rd)

Glenmont/Norbeck: 15.0% (4th)

The above areas illustrating Raskin’s greatest strengths have something in common: they are all totally or primarily inside the Beltway.  (Most of the portion of Council District 1 that is outside the Beltway is in Congressional District 6.)  The areas showing his greatest weaknesses also have something in common: they are all totally or primarily outside the Beltway, some of them a considerable distance outside.  Raskin expanded his geographic base successfully since 74% of his votes came from outside District 20, but his votes began to dry out north of Norbeck Road.  His 6.5 point victory was due to his ability to consolidate the vote in Downcounty precincts while pulling just enough votes from the north to prevent David Trone or Kathleen Matthews from winning.

David Trone

Strongest Performances

Carroll County Total Votes: 51.8% (1st)

White Population Over 90%: 51.4% (1st)

Frederick County Total Votes: 51.2% (1st)

Damascus: 44.9% (1st)

Montgomery County Council District 2: 41.5% (1st)

Legislative District 15: 38.6% (1st)

Derwood: 36.9% (2nd)

Glenmont/Norbeck: 36.1% (1st)

Potomac: 35.1% (1st)

Legislative District 14: 34.2% (1st)

Weakest Performances

Takoma Park: 11.7% (3rd)

Chevy Chase: 13.9% (3rd)

Inside the Beltway: 15.8% (3rd)

Legislative District 20: 16.8% (3rd)

Silver Spring Inside the Beltway: 17.0% (3rd)

Bethesda: 18.1% (3rd)

Montgomery County Council District 1: 18.4% (3rd)

Montgomery County Council District 5: 18.5% (2nd)

Legislative District 16: 19.3% (3rd)

Cabin John: 19.7% (3rd)

Trone’s strengths and weaknesses are the mirror image of Raskin’s.  He lost to both Raskin and Matthews inside the Beltway, but as the precincts went farther north, Trone got stronger.  Trone’s success in the northern Counties as well as Upcounty Montgomery will no doubt cause him to take a hard look at the Congressional District 6 seat should John Delaney run for Governor.  Western Maryland accounts for a fifth of CD8’s Democratic primary voters, but in CD6, it accounted for roughly 40% of the vote in both the 2016 and 2014 Democratic primaries.  One interesting thing not shown here: Trone was the leader in majority-minority, heavily Hispanic and heavily Asian precincts.

Kathleen Matthews

Strongest Performances

Derwood: 40.8% (1st)

Leisure World: 33.1% (1st)

Bethesda: 32.5% (2nd)

Legislative District 16: 32.3% (2nd)

Cabin John: 32.0% (2nd)

Chevy Chase: 32.0% (2nd)

Montgomery County Council District 1: 31.6% (2nd)

Weakest Performances

Takoma Park: 8.4% (3rd)

Silver Spring Inside the Beltway: 13.4% (3rd)

Blacks Over 33% of Population: 15.2% (3rd)

Montgomery County Council District 5: 15.2% (3rd)

Hispanics Over 33% of Population: 16.0% (4th)

Whites Under 40% of Population: 16.6% (3rd)

Majority-Minority Precincts: 17.7% (3rd)

Matthews finished second in most parts of CD8, which isn’t bad, but she finished first in just two local areas: Leisure World and Derwood, which has only one precinct in the district.  If she had also finished first in, say, Bethesda and Chevy Chase, she might have gotten close, but Raskin owned the areas inside the Beltway.  Matthews told the Washington Post that she was thinking of running for local office in the future. Here’s an idea for her: in a County Council at-large race, the top four vote-getters triumph.  A candidate who finishes second everywhere would be a lock to win.

Now here’s an interesting thought.  With Raskin going to Congress, Matthews thinking about running again and Trone not ruling it out either, could all three of them ultimately be in office after the next election?

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