District 8 congressional candidate David Trone took out a second full-page ad Thursday in The Washington Post in which he criticized his opponents and the media for focusing on his $9.1 million in campaign spending.
Trone, who announced the $9.1 million total in a Tuesday full-page ad in the Post, wrote Thursday that, “Rather than challenging my business experiences, my issue positions or my proposals, my opponents and the press focus on the money I’m spending to communicate with you.”
He continued: “You won’t find stories about my ideas, only how much I’m spending to tell you about them. …Campaigns shouldn’t be this expensive. But they are, especially when you’re a big underdog in an expensive, fragmented media market.”
He referred to four of his eight opponents in the April 26 primary as “three candidates who’ve served 56 years in public office and another one who’s been a local media celebrity for almost four decades.”
The media celebrity reference is to Kathleen Matthews, the former ABC7 reporter and anchor and wife of MSNBC political pundit Chris Matthews.
On Thursday afternoon, Matthews said Trone’s reference to her as a “media celebrity” is offensive.
“The insinuation is that I am a ‘talking head,’” Matthews wrote, according to a campaign press release that included the letter. “It is a derogatory term and, as a working mom, I find it offensive and uncalled for. You can run as many ads as you would like, but when you do, I’d appreciate it if you clean up your act when referring to me.”
Trone, the multimillionaire co-owner of Bethesda-based Total Wine & Co., said at the start of his campaign he would fund it himself and spend as much as it takes to win the primary. The Democratic nominee will be the heavy favorite to win the seat, now held by Rep. Chris Van Hollen, in November. A major part of his campaign has been his promise not to take contributions from PACs, lobbyists and other big-dollar donors.
In his Thursday ad, Trone wrote he “certainly could have raised enough money to fund a competitive campaign” had he gone the traditional campaign fundraising route.
“No matter how well-intentioned, those contributions and the candidates who take them are part of the reason Washington is broken,” Trone wrote. “Instead, my wife, children, and I decided I should pay my own way. It’s money I’ve earned growing a business, not from an inheritance, but from one small store to the largest private wine merchant in the country. We’re a family business, and the money is as much theirs as mine.”
In her open letter, Matthews referred to political contributions Trone has made to officials around the country, including Republicans Trone has said he donated to in order to help grow his Total Wine & More business. Trone has been a major contributor to the Democratic National Committee, hosting a fundraiser with President Obama at his Potomac home last year.
“You began this campaign talking about how you bought access with political contributions and lobbyists to expand your liquor business. Now you are trying to buy a congressional seat, as if it’s a fine bottle of wine,” Matthews wrote in her letter. “It is up to voters to decide how they feel about the $9.1 million you have already spent in this campaign.”
Early voting began Thursday.