In an election where Republicans flipped the House and Democrats narrowly held onto the Senate, the biggest losers in 2022 were self-funding candidates. Of the eight congressional contenders who loaned or contributed $10 million or more to their campaigns this year, only one heavy spender will be seated in January. 

Democratic Representative David Trone of Maryland was the only top spender to win his race as he scored a narrow victory. Trone, co-founder of Total Wine & More and the sole incumbent among the self-funders, invested more than $12 million of his own money into the contest. That’s nearly 15 times the amount raised by his Republican opponent Neil Parrott, according to data compiled by OpenSecrets, a nonpartisan group that tracks campaign finance. 

But other heavy spending candidates, like celebrity physician Mehmet Oz and Missouri Democrat Trudy Busch Valentine, were defeated. Oz, who shelled out more of his own money than any other congressional candidate this year, lost to Democrat John Fetterman in one of the country’s most closely-watched contests. Oz poured $23 million of his fortune into his campaign through October, including a $2 million donation on Oct. 25, the day of his highly-publicized debate with Fetterman. 

Valentine, an heiress to the Anheuser-Busch beer fortune, lost her bid for a Missouri U.S. Senate seat by double digits after contributing $10.4 million of her own money. Her opponent raised roughly half that amount, according to OpenSecrets. The remaining six big-spending candidates didn’t make it to the general election, having flamed out in primaries.

Self-funded candidates face difficult odds in part because they’re often political outsiders trying to find a shortcut to the national stage, according to a 2016 study by the National Institute of Money in Politics, which has since merged with OpenSecrets.

In a year with record amounts of money in play, self-funding remained a small fraction of overall campaign contributions. Congressional candidates raised a combined $3.1 billion so far this cycle, but roughly 10% – or $317 million – came from the candidates themselves, according to Federal Election Commission filings through the third quarter of 2022.  Still, more than 1,500 candidates relied at least partially on personal loans or donations to fund their campaigns this year, an all-time high for a midterm election. 

The surge in self-funding comes as more people are running for Congress in recent years, according to Sheila Krumholz, executive director of OpenSecrets.

In total, 2,585 House and Senate candidates officially registered with the FEC this election cycle. Many of those running were first-time candidates without fundraising networks, according to Krumholz.

“Outsider candidates, unorthodox but rich, can pay their own way,” she said.

Part of the phenomena is fueled by President Donald Trump’s turn from billionaire businessman to winning presidential candidate. Trump, who backed Oz, personally contributed $66 million to his 2016 White House campaign. 

Earlier this year, Republican Senate candidates Jim Lamon and Mike Gibbons both contributed more than $18 million to their unsuccessful primary campaigns in Arizona and Ohio, respectively. 

In Ohio’s Republican U.S. Senate primary race alone, four candidates tossed out a combined $36 million of their own money. Another Trump-backed candidate, millionaire venture capitalist and author JD Vance, prevailed. Vance, who subsequently won the seat on Nov. 8,  loaned his campaign $700,000. 

This article was provided by Bloomberg News.