Through May, Cuccinelli has raised nearly $4 million less than McAuliffe and $3.3 million less than McDonnell had at the same point in the 2009 gubernatorial contest. Although Cuccinelli has prevailed in races in which he was outspent by opponents, his fundraising deficit is a significant obstacle in what is likely to be a prohibitively expensive campaign.
McAuliffe has promoted the narrative that some Republicans, particularly in the business community, are gravitating to the Democrat because they are leery of Cuccinelli’s opposition to the new state transportation funding plan and such social issues as abortion and same-sex marriage. Democrats contend that his views in those areas could prevent the state from attracting companies and skilled workers.
Although several Republicans agree that Cuccinelli’s positions have contributed to his campaign’s financial shortfall, especially in Northern Virginia, only a handful of high-profile GOP contributors have defected to McAuliffe. Many more donors have simply chosen to sit on the sidelines. For now, at least.
Bobbie Kilberg, the president and chief executive of the influential business group Northern Virginia Technology Council, said supporters are “still assessing” both candidates.
“I think the business community has not yet engaged on this race, and they’re waiting to see how the candidates develop their positions,” said Kilberg, a close ally of McDonnell’s who has accused Cuccinelli of being overly concerned with social issues. “I’ve most definitely noticed a real holding back.”
The donor scale
Election Day is still four months away, but Cuccinelli has ground to make up. He had raised $6.5 million through the end of May, compared with McAuliffe’s $10.4 million.
According to a Virginia Public Access Project analysis, as of May 29 Cuccinelli had gotten contributions from 14 percent of the same itemized individual donors who gave to McDonnell’s campaign through May 2009. Less than 1 percent — nine out of 1,505 — had donated to McAuliffe, while the rest had given to neither candidate.
At the top of the donor scale, Cuccinelli picked up five of the 20 contributors who had given $25,000 or more to McDonnell and 27 of the 85 who had kicked in at least $10,000 at the same point in the 2009 race.
Cuccinelli campaign strategist Chris LaCivita scoffed at the notion that the Republican was in a weak financial position.