Election Updates: Trump will speak at a Minnesota fund-raiser, hoping the state’s political divide will put it in play. (2024)

The costly realm of campaign politics has claimed its share of the fortunes of yet another business magnate with aspirations to higher office.

Representative David Trone, Democrat of Maryland who co-owns the largest wine retailer in the country, poured more than $60 million of his personal fortune into his Senate campaign in Maryland, according to campaign finance reports filed to the Federal Election Commission. He lost the Democratic primary this week to Angela Alsobrooks, a county executive whose campaign had spent about a tenth of that amount.

A day after Mr. Trone’s loss, Nicole Shanahan, Robert F. Kennedy Jr.’s running mate and a Silicon Valley investor who recently divorced the Google co-founder Sergey Brin, announced that she was doubling her stake in Mr. Kennedy’s independent presidential campaign. Her donation of another $8 million brings her total contributions to nearly $15 million, despite the fact that no third-party or independent candidate has come close to winning a presidential election in modern U.S. history.

Mr. Kennedy’s campaign is so far only about half as expensive as the costliest self-funded presidential campaign this cycle: Vivek Ramaswamy, the Republican entrepreneur, spent more than $30 million of his own wealth on his failed candidacy, dropping out in January after spending $3,500 per vote won in the Iowa caucuses. Doug Burgum, the governor of North Dakota who sold his software company to Microsoft for $1 billion, didn’t even get that far: He dropped out before a single vote was cast after having spent nearly $14 million on his presidential campaign.

It is a time-honored tradition in U.S. politics: wealthy people burning dizzying sums of money to fuel their political ambitions through long-shot candidacies, or — as in Mr. Trone’s case — campaigns with good odds that simply don’t end up working out.

A self-funded campaign is not always a recipe for disaster. Mr. Trone, for example, was successfully elected to Congress after spending a combined $31.3 million of his fortune to run in two House races. He lost to Jamie Raskin in the 2016 Democratic primary, but he won the 2018 primary to succeed Representative John Delaney, another wealthy Democrat. Jon S. Corzine, a liberal Wall Street executive, spent about $60 million, or $108 million adjusted for inflation, to win a Senate seat in New Jersey in 2000.

Here are some of the biggest money-pit campaigns:

Michael R. Bloomberg, 2020 Presidential Campaign

Personal wealth contributed: $1 billion

Dollars per vote: $426.76

It was, by far, the most expensive campaign flop in American history.

Michael Bloomberg, the founder of the financial and media giant Bloomberg L.P. and one of the biggest donors to the Democratic Party, had previously made headlines and history for spending eye-popping sums on his political ambitions. He poured hundreds of millions of dollars from his personal fortune to run for mayor of New York and to stay in office from 2002 to 2013.

But the most expensive race of his career — and also just the most expensive presidential primary campaign ever in U.S. history — stood out not just for the size of Mr. Bloomberg’s war chest but also for how the campaign went down in spectacular defeat. The former mayor dropped out roughly 100 days after getting into the race.

Tom Steyer, 2020 Presidential Campaign

Personal wealth contributed: $341 million

Dollars per vote: $1,320.37


In any other race, in any other year, Tom Steyer’s 2020 presidential campaign would have been a record-breaking flop. Spending $341 million of his hedge fund fortune, Mr. Steyer ultimately earned 258,848 votes, the steepest ratio of money-to-votes of any presidential candidate in U.S. history, and he won no delegates before dropping out of the race.

The yawning hole that Mr. Steyer’s presidential ambitions left in his wallet is eclipsed only by that of Mr. Bloomberg, who spent roughly three times as much and who made a much bigger splash when he jumped late into the Democratic primaries.

Linda E. McMahon, 2010 and 2012 Senate Campaigns

Personal wealth contributed: $98.8 million combined

Dollars per vote: $85.95


Linda McMahon, the former chief executive of World Wrestling Entertainment, spent nearly $100 million to self-fund two Senate campaigns in Connecticut. She decisively claimed the Republican nomination with her enormous cash advantage but ultimately lost both races by wide margins in 2010 and 2012. It was, at the time, the most anyone had ever spent of their own fortune to run for federal office.

Ms. McMahon later donated extensively to Donald J. Trump’s 2016 campaign, and then she joined his cabinet as the head of the Small Business Administration. Her campaign’s senior consultant in 2012, Chris LaCivita, is now one of the top officials for Mr. Trump’s 2024 presidential campaign.

Steve Forbes, 1996 & 2000 Presidential Campaigns

Personal wealth contributed: $74 million combined


Steve Forbes, then the chairman and editor in chief of Forbes magazine, ran two presidential campaigns as a Republican, each time spending about $37 million of his personal fortune in his bid to win the nomination — for a total of $74 million, or $139 million when adjusted for inflation.

The wealthy publisher ran on a platform of abolishing tax brackets and enacting a simple flat tax rate — an idea that later caught on with other Republican presidential hopefuls. Mr. Forbes won a few state primaries in 1996, placed second against George W. Bush in the Iowa caucuses in 2000 but ultimately fell short in both campaigns.

Ross Perot, 1992 Presidential Campaign

Personal wealth contributed: $65 million


The business executive Ross Perot ran one of the strongest third-party campaigns in modern history, winning about 19 percent of the popular vote — though he did not win any states or a single electoral vote.

For that bid, he spent $65 million of his own money, equivalent to $143.5 million in today’s dollars.

Though he ran again in 1996, this time under the ballot line of the Reform Party, Mr. Perot was largely limited from spending his own fortune on that campaign because he had accepted $30 million in public funding for his candidacy. Under federal election rules, his self-financing would be capped at $50,000.

A correction was made on

May 16, 2024


An earlier version of this article misstated the amount Steve Forbes cumulatively spent on his two presidential campaigns. It was $74 million, not $72 million.

How we handle corrections

Election Updates: Trump will speak at a Minnesota fund-raiser, hoping the state’s political divide will put it in play. (2024)


When was Trump in Minnesota? ›

Trump returned to Minnesota several times in 2020, when Biden beat him by more than 7 points. In the run-up to that election, Trump said he would never return to Minnesota should he lose there.

What is the political history of Minnesota? ›

Historically, the state was a Republican stronghold, never voting Democratic from statehood until 1932, however, since then it has voted Democratic all but thrice- 1952, 1956, and 1972.

Who owned Minnesota before it became a state? ›

The area of Minnesota was partially included in the original territory of the United States, being part of lands ceded by four states to the United States and designated in 1787 as the "Territory northwest of the River Ohio." The United States acquired the remainder of the area from France in 1803 as part of the ...

What number was Minnesota when it became a state? ›

On May 11, 1858, Minnesota became the 32nd state admitted into the Union.

Is Minnesota mostly Republican or Democrat? ›

From 1932 onward, the state has primarily voted Democratic, last voting Republican during Nixon's landslide victory in 1972. Outside of Washington, D.C., it is the longest Democratic streak in the country.

What percent of Minnesotans are German? ›

Download Table Data
StateGerman PopulationGerman %
South Dakota307,04433.06%
48 more rows

Is it good to live in Minnesota? ›

Each year the researchers at personal finance publication WalletHub do a study to rank all 50 states on livability based on five categories: affordability, economy, education and health, quality of life, and safety. Whenever the new results come out, the Gopher State consistently ranks in the top 10.

Who was President when Minnesota became a state? ›

On May 11, 1858, the bill for the admission of Minnesota was passed by Congress and approved by President James Buchanan.

When was the Republican National Convention in Minneapolis? ›

Proceedings of the tenth Republican national convention, held in the city of Minneapolis, Minn., June 7, 8, 9 and 10, 1892 ... Library of Congress.

When was Minnesota Territory? ›

The Minnesota Territory was formed on March 3, 1849, encompassing the entirety of the present-day state of Minnesota and the majority portions of modern-day North and South Dakota east of the Missouri and White Earth Rivers. At the time of formation there were an estimated 5,000 settlers living in the Territory.

When Trump was President? ›

Donald Trump
Official portrait, 2017
45th President of the United States
In office January 20, 2017 – January 20, 2021
Vice PresidentMike Pence
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