The race is on to replace Chris Van Hollen, the Representative for Maryland's 8th Congressional District, who is stepping down at the end of this term in order to pursue his senatorial ambitions. The highly coveted House seat has attracted a host of high-profile political insiders in Chevy Chase, MD, an affluent D.C. suburb, as well others who claim to be independent outsiders. The race for the 8th is projected to be one of the most expensive elections this cycle, with a projected total cost of $10 million.
Among the high-profile contenders are former television reporter Kathleen Matthews, state senator Jamie Raskin, former deputy assistant secretary of state Joel Rubin. In the outsider lane are Ana Sol Gutierrez, Liz Matory and Will Jawando, among others. Until recently, the Democratic race was seen as a toss-up between the very liberal Jamie Raskin, and the comparatively moderate Kathleen Matthews.
However, the political scene in the 8th was upturned upon the entrance of David J. Trone. Mr. Trone, a wealthy business owner with an extensive history of political giving, has chosen a strategy that until recently would have been considered highly unusual. He has made it a policy of his campaign to not accept donations over $10, calling himself the "big-time underdog". The 'can't-be-bought millionaire businessman' strategy has drawn comparisons between himself and GOP front-runner Donald Trump, as well as the ire of his opponents, who accuse him of being the biggest insider of all, posing as an outsider.
While Mr. Trone has dismissed any similarities between himself and Donald Trump other than their willingness to self-fund, the pattern of political giving of the two candidates is in fact similar: a business-like approach, with donations to candidates and organizations on both sides of the ideological spectrum, from President Obama to North Carolina Republican Senator Thom Tillis. Other than a $668K one-time contribution to the Democratic Hope Fund, his political giving is very balanced:
So how in touch are these political powerhouses with their constituencies? Where is their money coming from? It turns out that most have relied heavily on big donors, with few exceptions.
Matthews and Raskin have out-raised the pack substantially, relying mostly on big donors. Ana Sol Gutierrez has raised the most from small donors, with 43% of her funds coming from donations of $200 or less. Second is Raskin with 14%, followed by Will Jawando with 13%.
The ideological score for donors in Chevy Chase and Montgomery county is a 5L, unsurprisingly very close to the top recipient of their money: Matthews, a 6.4L. While small donors may not be getting heard in this election, it is clear who the big donors would choose to represent their interests.