Maryland’s race for an open seat in the U.S. Senate is likely to be the most expensive federal race in state history.

The leading candidate in the Democratic primary, David Trone, has bankrolled his campaign to the tune of more than $40 million, while the Republican front-runner, Larry Hogan, will get the help of a political action committee seeded with $10 million from a Republican megadonor, according to new campaign finance filings.

By comparison, total spending in the 2016 Democratic Senate primary between Chris Van Hollen and Donna Edwards was about $15 million, according to campaign finance records, while about $20 million total was spent in the 8th Congressional District race that year — also featuring Trone.

Campaign finance tracking site OpenSecrets says Maryland’s Senate contest is the fourth-most expensive race in the country this year.

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Most candidates for federal office were required to file campaign finance reports on Monday, covering their fundraising and spending over the first three months of the year. The reports give a glimpse into who is funding campaigns and how candidates are attempting to win over voters.

Longtime U.S. Sen. Ben Cardin, a Democrat, is not running for reelection this year, leaving his seat open and sparking a competitive campaign to succeed him.

Trone, a three-term member of the House of Representatives, loaned his campaign another $18.5 million in the last few months, bringing his total self-investment in the race to nearly $41.8 million since he joined the campaign last spring, according to his latest report.

With that money, the congressman has been able to massively outspend his chief rival in the Democratic primary, Prince George’s County Executive Angela Alsobrooks. Independent polling has shown Trone with a lead, and even an internal Alsobrooks poll showed Trone ahead.

Trone has blanketed the airwaves and mailboxes with ads about his background and time in the U.S. House of Representatives.

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Trone has just shy of $1 million cash on hand as his Democratic primary campaign against Alsobrooks and several lesser-known candidates enters the final weeks. Alsobrooks, while trailing in the polls, has more money in the bank, about $3.2 million.

Trone and Alsobrooks are the leading contenders vying for the Democratic nomination, with the winner likely to face off against Republican Larry Hogan, the former two-term governor.

Trone has largely tapped his personal wealth as the founder of the Total Wine and More chain of liquor stores.

Alsobrooks, meanwhile, has raised millions from donors — though nowhere close to Trone’s millions. In the first quarter, Alsobrooks raised about $2.1 million, bringing her total fundraising to about $7.2 million since she entered the campaign last spring.

Alsobrooks issued a statement saying that her fundraising numbers are “indicative that our people-first message is resonating with Marylanders.”

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Trone is one of the biggest self-spending candidates for the U.S. Senate, according to OpenSecrets.

U.S. Sen. Rick Scott, a Republican from Florida, spent more than $63 million of his own money to win in 2018.

Other big self-spenders are not so successful. Failed self-funded Senate candidates include Republican Bob Hugin in New Jersey in 2018 ($36 million); Republican Kelly Loeffler in Georgia in 2020 (about $24 million); and Republican Mehmet Oz in Pennsylvania in 2022 (about $27 million), according to Open Secrets data.

Hogan gets a $10 million bump

Whichever candidate wins the Democratic primary will face a well-funded campaign from Hogan and his Republican allies. Republicans see the open seat in Maryland as one they might be able to wrest away from Democratic control, potentially tipping the balance of power in the Senate back into Republican control.

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Hogan will get help from a super political action committee called Maryland’s Future, which opened up with a mailbox in an Annapolis office supplies store and a bank account of more than $10 million.

Nearly all of that money came from Republican donor Kenneth C. Griffin, the billionaire founder and CEO of the hedge fund Citadel LLC. Griffin also donated $6,600 to Hogan’s official campaign.

Hogan’s campaign said, all told, they raised $3.1 million when combining the candidate committee, Hogan’s Better Path Forward Political Action Committee and a joint fundraising committee with state and national Republicans called the Hogan Victory Fund.

The donations to Hogan’s candidate committee included not only Maryland political players, but also national Republican donors, among them:

Asked about Hogan’s donations, his spokesperson Mike Ricci said in a statement: “We’re either going to be up against the candidate backed by one of the biggest Democratic machines in the country” — meaning Alsobrooks — or a “billionaire mogul shattering self funding records” — Trone. “It’s a race to level the playing field financially as best we can to take our message to Marylanders.”

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Trone’s team seized on Hogan’s campaign finance report to promote their candidate as the best-positioned to defeat the former governor.

“David Trone has been crystal clear that he’s prepared to do whatever it takes to beat Larry Hogan in November and protect the Democratic Senate majority,” Trone spokesperson Joe Bowen said in a statement Tuesday. “With national Republicans and right wing donors flooding Maryland with contributions to Hogan, there has never been a more important time to take the fight directly to Mitch McConnell, Larry Hogan and Donald Trump.”

Alsobrooks’ team also touted her as the best option to beat Hogan.

“Angela has this race in a dead heat” — a reference to an internal poll that showed a 43%-40% Trone advantage — “despite being up against the biggest self-funder in a Senate primary in American history,” said Alsobrooks spokesperson Gina Ford. “That fact alone speaks to the strength of her candidacy, her impressive grassroots movement, and the genuine excitement around her as we go into this final month.”

Ford added: “As we look towards November, it’s no surprise Larry Hogan is raising money from MAGA donors to try to pad his coffers. Angela will defeat him.”

Pamela Wood covers Maryland politics and government. She previously reported for The Baltimore Sun, The Capital and other Maryland newspapers. A graduate of the University of Maryland, College Park, she lives in northern Anne Arundel County.

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