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RIA CEO loses bid for Senate seat in Maryland

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Neal Simon, the CEO of Bronfman Rothschild, a $6 billion-plus RIA, fell short — well short — in his bid to become a United States Senator from Maryland.

Simon, running as an independent, was crushed by two-term Democrat incumbent Ben Cardin who captured 64% of the votes —nearly 1.3 million. Republican Tony Campbell won 31% of the vote, while Simon received almost 4%, garnering nearly 80,000 votes.

The 50-year old Simon faced long odds running against the popular 75-year old Cardin, who has been in office since he was elected to the Maryland House of Delegates in 1966.

What’s more, Maryland has been a reliably blue state that voted overwhelmingly for Hillary Clinton in 2016, a fact Cardin seized on in the election.

Maryland voters wanted “an independent Congress — independent of the president,” Cardin told supporters at his victory celebration. “I heard that over and over again.”
Ironically, Simon, who belongs to Unite America, a group advocating “country over party,” highlighted his own independence during the campaign.

“The only way to change the way Washington works is without a party label,” he told Financial Planning last month. “If you have a party label, you’re part of the problem.”

Simon distanced himself from President Trump during the campaign, saying he did not vote for the Republican candidate in 2016.

Maryland voters wanted “an independent Congress — independent of the president,” said Democrat Ben Cardin.

He did, however, say that he agreed with some things Trump has done, including moving the U.S. Embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.

Simon raised around $1.8 million to run for the Senate seat, including a personal loan of $946,000 to the campaign. Cardin raised nearly $4 million.

Despite his poor showing on Tuesday, Simon remained upbeat.

“We didn’t win this time,” he told supporters. “But real change can be like chipping at a dam. You keep knocking down pieces, and eventually the river flows through.”

Michael La Mena, Bronfman Rothschild’s COO who stepped in to head the firm while Simon was campaigning, has said that Simon’s future role would be discussed after the election.

But in October Simon said he sees himself as “part of a national movement. I don’t see myself coming back to the [financial services] industry in a full-time capacity.”

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