McAuliffe tops Cuccinelli in fundraising race for Virginia governor

September 16, 2013

The race for money in the Virginia governor’s campaign again went to Terry McAuliffe, with the former head of the Democratic Party raking in nearly $7.36 million in July and August, according to reports released by his campaign and a nonprofit group that tracks campaign contributions.

His Republican rival, Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli II, raised about $5.69 million, according to an analysis of campaign donations released Monday by the nonpartisan Virginia Public Access Project.

As the candidates head into the final stretch, McAuliffe has more than $5 million in cash on hand, while Cuccinelli has about $2.24 million.

McAuliffe — who as a former Democratic National Committee chairman has raised hundreds of millions of dollars for party causes as well as for Bill and Hillary Rodham Clinton — has consistently beaten Cuccinelli on the financial front since entering the race.

In a statement, his campaign said McAuliffe had received donations from more than 7,400 contributors between July 1 and Aug. 31 and that 72 percent of those were from Virginia.

Of the $5.7 million Cuccinelli raised in the two-month period, more than $3.6 million of it came in the form of in-kind donations from the Republican Governors Association (RGA). His next largest donor was Murray Energy Corp., which gave $30,000.

McAuliffe got $2.7 million in cash donations from the Democratic Governors Association (DGA) over the same period, as well as $900,000 from the Virginia League of Conservation Voters and more than $350,000 from organized labor groups.

Robert Sarvis, the Libertarian candidate for governor, reported raising $27,000 in July and August. He had $19,000 in the bank as of Aug. 31.

McAuliffe’s advantage has allowed the Democrat to outspend his Republican foe in the field and on the airwaves. In an effort to level the playing field, the RGA had put $6.8 million into the contest through Sept. 4. (Through July 31, the DGA had spent $3.4 million.)

The money has allowed both candidates to flood the airwaves with political ads, most of them deeply negative attacks of their opponent.

McAuliffe has focused his advertising fire on Cuccinelli’s ethics, particularly his handling of gifts from the dietary supplement firm Star Scientific as well as his office’s handling of a controversial gas royalties case. The Democrat has also painted Cuccinelli as an extremist on abortion and divorce laws.

Cuccinelli and his allies have primarily emphasized GreenTech, the electric car firm co-founded by McAuliffe that has failed to create as many jobs as promised and is now under federal investigation.

The consistent financial disparity is one reason why many national and state Republican officials are privately concerned that McAuliffe is ahead in the race.

In the race for lieutenant governor, Chesapeake minister E.W. Jackson (R) raised $303,224, while state Sen. Ralph S. Northam (D-Norfolk) took in $446,056. Northam has consistently outraised Jackson, who has twice had to amend his fundraising reports because he omitted or failed to properly itemize loans or donations.

In the contest for attorney general, state Sen. Mark R. Herring (D-Loudoun) reported raising $547,392. His opponent, state Sen. Mark D. Obenshain (R-Harrisonburg), hauled in $607,363. Unlike his Republican ticket-mates, Obenshain has beaten Herring in the fundraising race so far.

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