David Trone campaigning in January. (via Twitter)

David Trone entered Maryland’s 8th Congressional District race in late January, but his late start didn’t hinder his campaign spending. Trone broke the record for self-funding a House campaign by spending more than $12 million of his own money, breaking New Mexico Democrat Phil Maloof’s 1998 record of $6.3 million.

Despite this significant lump of cash, Trone lost Tuesday’s primary race.

Throughout the campaign, Trone never labeled himself a front-runner—quite the opposite. “There is no question that I am the underdog,” Trone told Bethesda Magazine in January. The “wine superstore owner” faced seven other opponents for the seat, including Kathleen Matthews, wife of MSNBC’s Chris Matthews; State Sen. Jamie Raskin; and two of Barack Obama’s former aides.

Although Trone outspent Raskin by 6 to 1, Raskin won Tuesday’s primary with 34 percent of the vote.

Matthews, who came in third with 24 percent, told McClatchy DC that it was hard to get her message across because of “one candidate who has been able to pretty much control the airwaves.” Raskin drew a parallel between the congressional and presidential race, noting that “big money” seems to be intruding on both.

While Trone’s self-financing was reminiscent of Donald Trump’s, Trone’s politics couldn’t be more different:

Trone, who lives in Potomac, described himself as a “strong Democrat” who, like other candidates in the race, backs abortion rights and favors moves to restrict firearms sales, including more extensive background checks. He also said he would emphasize reform of the nation’s tax code. “The tax code needs to be reworked so it’s fair to working families. People like me need to pay high taxes, should pay higher taxes—and that’s a good thing,” he declared.

Campaign spending has been in the spotlight in the 2016 presidential election, as candidates such as Bernie Sanders point fingers at competitors who rely too much on vested interests for campaign funding. “Our campaign is funded by the people,” Sanders said in February. “To a significant degree, [Hillary Clinton’s] campaign is funded by Wall Street and big money interests.”

Trone argued that his self-funded campaign helped him avoid being accountable to lobbyists. “Having seen the terrible problem of lobbyists, corporations and donors blocking change that is good for Americans, I have decided I am not going to take any money from corporations, lobbyists and [political action committees],” he told Bethesda Magazine. While some Maryland voters considered the amount of money he spent “overkill,” others appreciated that Trone may not have been persuaded by special interests.

According to The Washington Post, Trone spent his money on a “top-flight campaign team.” He also “attacked Raskin persistently” in the weeks leading up to the election. However, neither his money nor his words were enough to overcome Raskin’s progressive record and strong endorsements: Trone came in second Tuesday night, with 27 percent of the vote.

–Posted by Emma Niles

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