Surging GOP Senate candidate unfazed by personal war chest of millionaire Dem in key blue state battle

Former two-term Maryland Republican Gov. Larry Hogan — who’s aiming to flip a Democrat-controlled open Senate seat in his heavily blue home state — is spotlighting his grassroots fundraising as he works to paint a stark contrast with the multi-millionaire front-runner for the Democratic nomination.

Hogan, considered the overwhelming front-runner for the GOP nomination in next month’s primary, is running in the contest to succeed retiring Democratic Sen. Ben Cardin in a race that is one of a handful that may determine if the Republicans win back the Senate majority.

The former governor, a vocal GOP critic of former President Donald Trump, may face off in November against Rep. David Trone, the polling front-runner in a crowded field of Democrats vying for their party’s Senate nomination. The Democratic field also includes Prince George’s County Executive Angela Alsobrooks, who is second in public opinion surveys.

Trone, the founder and co-owner along with his brother of the alcohol retailer Total Wine and More, is one of the wealthiest members of Congress and is largely self-funding his Senate bid. 


Democrat Maryland Rep. David Trone

Rep. David Trone, D-Md., arrives at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C., on Jan. 18 before the House voted to keep the government funded into March. (Tom Williams/CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty Images)

The congressman has loaned his campaign nearly $42 million since launching his bid in May of last year, according to federal campaign finance records. That makes him the largest self-funder of a Senate primary in American history, according to Federal Election Commission filings.

Hogan’s campaign, along with two aligned political action committees, hauled in over $3.1 million in fundraising since the former governor declared his Senate candidacy in mid-February.

Asked about Trone’s self-funding, Hogan’s campaign spotlighted an upcoming May 4 fundraising barbecue, where those attending are asked to contribute small-dollar donations.


“Following Governor Hogan’s bus tour directly reaching voters in every region of the state, we are excited to host a grassroots family BBQ with hundreds of supporters with tickets starting at $50 and kids under 12 for free,” the campaign told Fox News.

His team, pointing to the likelihood of a Hogan-Trone faceoff in November, vowed that their candidate “may be outspent, but not be outworked in this campaign.”

Former Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan, a Republican candidate for the Senate, greets Baltimore Orioles fans, including a large contingent of first responders, at a former firehouse turned pub blocks from Camden Yards, just ahead of the major league baseball team’s home opener, on March 28. (Fox News – Paul Steinhauser)

Trone’s campaign told Fox News that its candidate “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.”

“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. David Trone is the best candidate to do that,” it argued in a statement.

The latest polls indicate Hogan topping either Trone or Alsobrooks in general election matchups in Maryland, a state where Democrats outnumber Republicans by a two-to-one margin. 

“I would not put a lot of stock in polls right now. We’ve got a lot to do. We have not elected a Republican senator from Maryland since 1980, when Ronald Reagan was elected president,” Hogan cautioned in a Fox News Digital interview last month.

He noted that “it’s a tough state — the bluest state in America. But I think if we work hard, we have the ability to get people to vote their hearts and vote for the person they think can do the job and not just vote straight party line.”

A successful business leader before entering politics, Hogan seriously mulled a run for the 2024 Republican presidential nomination and made numerous trips in 2022 to New Hampshire, the state that holds the first primary on the GOP nominating calendar.

But in March of last year, Hogan announced he wouldn’t seek his party’s presidential nomination.


During Hogan’s last year as governor, Republican leaders in the nation’s capital and in Maryland heavily courted him to run for the Senate in the 2022 midterm elections against Democratic Sen. Chris Van Hollen, but Hogan declined to run.

Last month, Hogan told Fox News a main reason he’s now running for the Senate is to “bring some sanity back to the divisiveness and dysfunction” in the nation’s capital. He’s also touting his ability during his tenure as governor to work with a Democratic-dominated legislature to reach consensus.

And in a new nearly $1 million ad blitz launched on Wednesday, Hogan takes aim at the “partisan BS” in Washington. In the spot, Hogan vows “to be a voice of common sense” and “get stuff done” in the Senate.

The National Republican Senatorial Committee, the campaign arm of the Senate GOP which heavily courted Hogan to run, is footing half the bill for running the spot on TV, digital and streaming services.


Hogan’s entry into the Senate race in Maryland is giving Democrats more headaches.

Former Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan, a Republican candidate for Senate, speaks to patrons at a pub in Frederick, Maryland, on April 6. (Fox News – Matthew Reidy)

Democrats currently control the U.S. Senate with a 51-49 majority, but Republicans are looking at a favorable Senate map this year, with Democrats defending 23 of the 34 seats up for grabs. 

Three of those seats are in red states that Trump carried in 2020 — Ohio, Montana and West Virginia, where Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin is not running for re-election. And five more are in key general election battlegrounds.

Fox News’ Matthew Reidy and Aubrie Spady contributed to this report.

Get the latest updates from the 2024 campaign trail, exclusive interviews and more at our Fox News Digital election hub.

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