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April 18, 2016

Picking a bone with David Trone

by Nicholas Shereikis, Grand Vizier
If you’ve seen any of the ads (I'm going to refer to them as "Trone strikes"), and chances are you have, it looks like local favorite Congressional candidate Jamie Raskin might finally have some competition. Businessman David Trone’s self-financed television and radio ads have thoroughly permeated Maryland’s 8th Congressional District, spreading pictures of his family’s old farm, friendly chats with employees of his wine company, and the man himself sitting behind the desk in his overwhelmingly modest office.

Campaigning extensively and aggressively over the past few months, 60-year old multimillionaire David Trone has entered the race to become the Democratic nominee for Maryland’s eighth Congressional District. Trone is a co-owner of Bethesda-based company Total Wine & More, and is using his own wealth to finance his campaign.
Courtesy of Washington Post
Jamie Raskin is the local favorite to win the congressional race for Maryland’s 8th Congressional District.

Trone’s ads present him as the epitome of the American success story: a man who grew up on a small farm to become an outrageously successful businessman with a focus on family and a history of job creation. But if you look closer at his history and business actions, his commitment to progressive policies becomes a little sketchier.

While maybe entirely coincidental, Trone’s decision to run for office comes during a heated debate over Montgomery County’s public liquor control structure, which is both a state and local issue. He has donated just $90 thousand to the Democratic Party, but over $150 thousand to the Republican Party. Trone donates with the intent of influencing legislation that may affect his business, regardless of the consequences or effect it has on other issues. He has also recently attempted, through legislative efforts, to loosen state law in order to allow expansion of Total Wine & More retail outlets in Maryland. Trone even went so far as to tell reporters “I sign my checks to buy access” in a recent interview, which may suggest that his candidacy for congress is nothing more than a poorly disguised attempt to legalize private liquor sales in Montgomery County.

And this last attempt to expand in his home state throws into sharp relief issues with his claim to job creation. Trone is actually not a job creator in Montgomery County because he’s legally not allowed to expand his business, and no election to political office will change that. Despite owning a national franchise and employing thousands, he has not had the same success within the district that he’s running to represent.

While Trone is using his millions to create a path to Congress, candidate Jamie Raskin is continuing the grass-roots approach that has led to his repeated elections as state Senator. Raskin has a history of achievement in office, including the role he played in the passage of Maryland’s marriage equality legislation in 2013, as well as the repeal of the death penalty. He’s also publicly predicted that he will be outspent by both Trone and Matthews in this race. “Public office is something you earn, not something you buy,” he said in a recent online fundraising pitch.

The other serious competitor for the democratic nomination is Kathleen Matthews, wife of Hardball icon Chris Matthews. While having valid views and opinions, Matthews, seems to be treating her campaign as more of a game – despite spending more than Raskin, her name recognition is not as great. She is also still behind Raskin in most polls, with Trone close on her heels.

Trone and Raskin may have seemingly similar stances on many issues, but the transparency with which they conduct their campaigns are far from identical. Trone is a multimillionaire attempting to buy the election; a man who has a history of paying off anybody who can help promote his brand with disregard for affected policies and constituents. Raskin is a well-supported local icon with a history of achievement, someone who has steadfastly stuck to his principles and morals despite the political turmoil around him.

When making the decision on who to vote for, it’s important to remember where the candidates are coming from. Sketchy business actions (and family’s small farm) aside, Trone is a multimillionaire with a very expensive house in Potomac. Matthews is the wife of a nationally recognized political pundit. Raskin, on the other hand, has been living with and serving his community for years.

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  • bob on April 18, 2016 at 7:23 PM
    raskin should win. he has done so much over the years
  • Michael McCall (View Email) on April 19, 2016 at 4:22 PM
    "While maybe entirely coincidental, Trone’s decision to run for office comes during a heated debate over Montgomery County’s public liquor control structure, which is both a state and local issue. "
    Buy a clue, liquor law is a local issue, David TRONE is running for congress. State law runs the liquor board,his friendship with the Clintons and the Obamas won't help one bit on getting a liquor license in Montgomery county, but it could help get NIH fully funded. David is being honored on May 12th by the Anti-Defamation League, his donation to the ACLU is well known. David worked to get Jimmy Carter elected while in college at Furman University. The new student center is named after David and his wife June. I don't know where or how you got your donation numbers from but when you do business in Republican states like Texas , you donate to the politicians in charge.David has been a progressive democrat his whole life, so don't hate him for his success and wanting to give back to the community as he retires from the business world.
    • Vote Raskin! on April 20, 2016 at 8:36 AM
      I don't deny that in his heart, David Trone is a progressive guy. But by donating 150K to Rep. (more than he did to Dems) he was abetting governors like Greg Abbott and Pat McCrory in passing anti-gay laws, restricting abortion rights and weakening the social safety net. Before making those donations, Trone was faced with a choice: make the right call for the citizens of red states or the right call for his financial self interest. He chose accumulating personal wealth over helping people. And that's not a quality I want in a congressperson.

      *Vote Raskin!*
      • raskin fan on April 22, 2016 at 5:31 PM
        Not even just that -- it's that we have so many great, established, reliable progressives, why would we vote for someone who has no record and, unlike Kathleen Matthews, nobody here had ever heard of before? I hope Jamie gets 100% of the votes out of SD-20.
  • John (View Email) on April 19, 2016 at 6:04 PM
    This article is filled with inaccuracies. I'm sick of seeing baseless attacks on Trone riddled with falsehoods that are presented to the reader.

    How could you possibly state he hasn't created jobs in Montgomery County? Total Wine and More corporate headquarters resides in Bethesda, Maryland (which is Montgomery County the last time I checked). Over 500 jobs and growing annually are here because of Trone. Not to mention the congressional headquarters is located in Rockville, Maryland, another creation of jobs in the county you claim he has contributed zero.

    You lose all credibility when you overlook facts like these, it's just terrible.

    • RaskinFTW on April 21, 2016 at 8:56 AM
      I don't think they were overlooked, per say, as much as they're just not comparable with the jobs Trone has created outside his district. If he was currently able to create as many jobs as he says he can, he wouldn't be actively working to change the legislation restricting him.

      Use your head.
    • bob on April 22, 2016 at 5:29 PM
      first we had bernie bros and trumpkins, now we got trone clones
  • don't worry 'bout it on April 21, 2016 at 10:13 AM
    "Trone strikes" = A++
  • trone sucks (View Email) on April 21, 2016 at 10:20 AM
    David Trone is garbage
  • David Trone on April 21, 2016 at 12:42 PM
    but i ran a struggling family farmmmmmmmmmmmm
  • Karen on April 21, 2016 at 5:08 PM
    Great article and supported by this morning's story on NPR: Trone has spent $11 million of his own money on this election. I agree that votes should be earned and not bought.
  • jamie for congress on April 26, 2016 at 8:26 PM
    jamie will win
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