Maryland Rep. David Trone announced Thursday he would run for the U.S. Senate seat that will be opening with the retirement of Sen. Ben Cardin.
Trone, a Democrat, has focused on issues including opioid addiction, mental health, medical research and criminal justice reform while in office. The congressman said he would continue advocating for those issues in the Senate.
“Ben Cardin was a great U.S. senator, and we’re looking forward to following in his huge shoes,” Trone said in an interview with The Associated Press. “But we’ve got a lot of challenges that are facing Maryland, and we’ve got to focus on those challenges, and first and foremost, it’s the addiction crisis.”
Trone, who is the wealthy founder of Total Wine & More liquor stores, spent more than $12 million of his own money on his House race last year. He said it’s too soon to say how much he would spend on a Senate race, but he said using his own fortune means he doesn’t take money from political action committees, corporations or lobbyists.
“And the whole key in that is you make your own decisions,” Trone said. “You can do what’s right for the people of Maryland and not be influenced by anybody.”
Since Cardin announced his retirement from the Senate on Monday, Trone is the third contender to declare a Senate campaign.
Montgomery County Councilmember Will Jawando, a Democrat, announced his candidacy for the seat on Tuesday. Jawando worked as an associate director of public engagement and an adviser to Education Secretary Arne Duncan during President Obama’s administration. Activist Jerome Segal announced his candidacy earlier this week.
Trone was re-elected to a third term in November in Maryland’s 6th Congressional District, defeating Republican Neil Parrott, whom he also defeated two years earlier. Following the Republican’s successful court challenge to the state’s congressional map, the western Maryland district was redrawn with fewer Democrats.
Trone said he worked hard to represent the entire district and won nearly 55% of the vote in the state’s most competitive House district.
“I’m confident there will be another Democrat that steps up to bring that same willingness to be present, show up everywhere, never leave western Maryland behind … and keep the seat,” Trone said.
Other potential candidates for Cardin’s Senate seat include Maryland Rep. Jamie Raskin, a Democrat, and Prince George’s County Executive Angela Alsobrooks, a Democrat.
In a state where Democrats outnumber Republicans 2-1, the victor of the Democratic primary will be a heavy favorite to win the seat. Since 1980, Maryland has not elected a Republican to the United States Senate. There is only one Republican in the state’s eight-member House delegation.
Last year, GOP leadership aggressively tried to recruit then-Gov. Larry Hogan to run against Sen. Chris Van Hollen, but Hogan declined, saying he didn’t “aspire” to be a U.S. senator. Hogan, who recently wrapped up his second and final term as governor, said in March that he would not seek the 2024 Republican presidential nomination.
Cardin, 79, has been a staple in Maryland politics for many years. His resignation will free up his Senate seat for the first time since 2006. After serving in the United States House for 20 years, he was elected to the Senate, representing a substantial portion of Baltimore and many adjacent suburbs.
Cardin is the third Democratic senator to announce her intention not to seek reelection next year, joining California’s Dianne Feinstein and Michigan’s Debbie Stabenow. On the Republican side, Indiana Senator Mike Braun is foregoing a second term to run for governor.
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