Democratic Rep. David Trone announced Thursday that he is jumping into Maryland’s open Senate race, and he signaled that he’s willing to spend his vast personal fortune on his campaign.
Trone’s campaign launch, which comes just three days after Democratic Sen. Ben Cardin announced his retirement, kicks off a potentially crowded primary in the deep blue state. And Trone could shake up the race by spending millions.
First elected to Congress in 2018, Trone built his personal fortune through his wine retail company, Total Wine & More. During a brief interview with NBC News ahead of his announcement, he declined to say how much he is willing to spend on the Senate race. But suggested his own wealth means he will not be beholden to special interests.
“Politics is unfortunately, way too expensive,” Trone said.
“I don’t take money from anybody. I don’t take money from PACs, lobbyists or corporations,” Trone later added. “We raise individual dollars ... And I put a lot of my resources.”
Trone has spent millions of his personal wealth on his past campaigns, loaning his House campaign nearly $12.6 million last year, spending $17.4 million on his 2018 race, and $13 million on an unsuccessful run for Congress in 2016, per campaign finance reports. In 2016, Trone lost the Democratic primary to Rep. Jaime Raskin, who is also considered a potential Senate candidate.
TIME previously reported that Trone told associates he is willing to spend $50 million of his own money on the Senate race, but Trone declined to directly answer questions about that specific figure.
“We really don’t know where this race is going to go as far as what it’s going to cost. But we’re certainly going to be there and be willing to put in the dollars necessary to bring it home,” Trone said.
Trone will not be alone in the Democratic primary. On Tuesday Montgomery County Councilmember Will Jawando launched his campaign. And others, including Prince George’s County Executive Angela Alsobrooks and Raskin, have been mentioned as potential candidates.
”We’re certainly going to nominate a progressive candidate,” Trone said of the potentially crowded field.
“On social issues, all the candidates that announce will be in the same position,” Trone later added. “The difference really is about getting things done. That’s what people are just tired of — politicians that want to be on CNN and MSNBC and talk, talk, talk but not get something accomplished. And getting something accomplished is the bottom line and I think life has prepared me to do that.”
Trone pointed to his work on the Bipartisan Mental Health and Substance Use Disorder Task Force, which includes 140 lawmakers and has helped pass 26 bills into law, as proof that he can be an effective legislator. He also referenced the work in his launch video, along with his work on criminal justice.
"By bringing people together, I'd like to think I've made headway, but it's not enough," Trone says in the video. "I know I won't be the establishment choice. But hey, why start now?"
While Trone said in the interview he would support eliminating the Senate filibuster, he also stressed the importance of working with Republicans, noting he’s often on the Republican side of the House floor.
“I’m the only Democrat I’ve ever seen in the Republican cloakroom talking to Republicans,” Trone said. “And it’s important to be there because that’s the way we can get folks driving change.”