Maryland’s 6th congressional district, spanning from Maryland’s conservative panhandle into liberal Montgomery County, elected Democrat David Trone by a margin of 21 points in the 2018 midterm election. Having been seen as a Republican-leaning seat in the past, this district was controversially redrawn in 2011, shifting the partisan breakdown of the district in favor of Democrats. The seat previously stretched across rural counties in the north of the state prior to the recent redistricting, avoiding Montgomery County almost entirely, and was represented by Republican Roscoe Bartlett from 1992 through 2010. However, Barlett was unseated by former Congressman John Delaney, a Democrat, in the very first election after the district was redrawn. This was seen as a major red flag for anti-gerrymandering activists, as the sudden (and drastic) change to this district was largely left unexcused by the usual causes for redrawing districts (such as population shifts and changes in communities of interest).
In 2014, Congressman John Delaney faced off against Republican Dan Bongino, just barely pulling off a win by an extremely slim margin of 1.2 points. This is the smallest margin an election in this district has been decided by in its history, but Delaney won reelection in 2016 by a margin of about 16 points. In 2018, however, Delaney announced he wouldn’t run for reelection, instead setting his sights on the 2020 presidential election.
After a quick look at the district’s current makeup, a stark contrast between Montgomery County and its Western County counterparts is made immediately apparent. Garrett, Allegany, and Washington counties, making up Maryland’s panhandle, voted for Amie Hoeber, Congressman Trone’s Republican opponent in 2018, by a combined margin of 18 points. These counties overall voted 36 points more Republican than the district as a whole. South of the panhandle, however, Congressman Trone dominated, carrying both Frederick and Montgomery counties by 24 points and 49 points respectively. Of the 276,00 votes cast in this district, nearly 51% of them came from Montgomery County alone. 18% of the remaining votes came from Frederick County, 18% came from Washington County, 8% from Allegany County, leaving only about 4% from Garrett County.
Congressman Trone, currently serving his first term, handily won the primary election, grasping over 40% of the vote. His most noteworthy primary challenger, former member of the Maryland House of Delegates Aruna Miller, was only able to muster just over 30% of the vote. Prior to running for office, Congressman Trone was known for starting Total Wine & More, which is now the largest privately owned beer, wine, and spirits retailer in the United States. Trone’s highly profitable business eventually allowed for him to almost entirely self-fund his campaign. By the end of the election, Congressman Trone had spent upwards of $15 million of his own money, becoming the largest self-funder in House history.
As for the 2020 election, Congressman Trone is the clear favorite to win both the primary and general elections. Maryland’s 6th district has consistently become more favorable towards the Democrats since 2014 and is expected to continue on its leftward swing into 2020. The 2022 election, however, may be a bit more complicated for Trone. After the 2020 census and the 2021 redistricting process, Maryland’s 6th congressional district is likely to return to Republican hands after the backlash state Democrats received from their 2011 map. If this is the case, Trone’s best bet would be to run in whichever district encompasses the most of northern Montgomery County. Here, Trone enjoys solid name recognition for the primary, as well as a favorable party advantage for the general. This is all speculative, though; only time will tell how this district ends up past 2020.