RICHMOND, Jan. 10 -- Democratic National Committee Chairman Terrence R. McAuliffe plans to announce Tuesday that the party intends to invest $5 million in Lt. Gov. Timothy M. Kaine's bid to become Virginia governor, Democratic sources said.
State party officials said the contribution will represent the largest amount the DNC has ever given to a Virginia candidate for governor. Four years ago, the national Democrats gave then-candidate Mark R. Warner and the state party $1.27 million. The DNC did not give any money to the party's 1997 candidate for Virginia governor, Donald S. Beyer.
Terrence McAuliffe is to hand over a DNC check for $1.5 million today.
Kaine campaign officials declined to confirm the amount of the DNC commitment for this year's campaign. But the sources, who spoke on condition of anonymity because of concerns about preempting the official announcement, said the party will contribute $5 million overall to Kaine's campaign. He probably will be opposed by Republican Jerry W. Kilgore, the state's attorney general.
"It's clearly a statement that the DNC thinks the race is winnable," said Kerry J. Donley, chairman of the Virginia Democratic Party. Donley declined to confirm the amount of the contribution but said, "My understanding is that it's more money than the DNC has ever given."
Two sources familiar with the DNC announcement said McAuliffe will hand Kaine a $1.5 million check Tuesday in Arlington County and will pledge an additional $2.5 million to the campaign for the year. The national party will also promise $1 million to the state party for general coordinated campaign efforts in 2005.
The total would equal the amount Warner, a millionaire, contributed to his own campaign in 2001 and would represent half of what Warner spent on his media budget. In the Northern Virginia television market, it costs about $500,000 to run a political ad for two weeks.
Virginia's election cycle does not match that of most states, so there are few competing demands for the DNC money in 2005. But Democratic sources said the national party views the contribution to Kaine as a longer-term investment that could pay off during the midterm elections in 2006 and the next presidential race in 2008.
"This makes a lot of sense," said one Democratic source familiar with the DNC pledge. "Both Kaine and Virginia represent where the party needs to go. It sends a signal that we want to reach out to a red state and we want to target [GOP] voters."
Kaine and Kilgore have been running about even in fundraising. The latest campaign finance reports show Kaine with $3.22 million and Kilgore with $3.37 million, according to the Virginia Public Access Project.
A $1.5 million check this week would likely put Kaine in the lead. But Kilgore campaign officials have said for months that they expect to receive significant financial support from the national Republican Party as well as the White House.
Kilgore was chairman of President Bush's Virginia campaign. Bush beat Sen. John F. Kerry (D) by 9 percentage points in Virginia despite a $3 million push by the Kerry campaign last summer.
Ken Hutcheson, Kilgore's campaign manager, dismissed the forthcoming DNC commitment as "national liberal money" and predicted that it will be used to provide Kaine with an "extreme political makeover" to disguise his liberal record.
"The DNC and its stable of liberal candidates represent the interests and Hollywood values of Michael Moore and Whoopi Goldberg," Hutcheson said, "while Attorney General Jerry Kilgore is aligned with common-sense, conservative Virginia values and voters."
Hutcheson said he expects Kilgore's campaign to have a "strong working partnership with the Republican National Committee, the Republican Governors Association and the White House."
Officials at the RNC said in a statement that the national party will make sure Kilgore has the money he needs to compete.
"No amount of money the DNC spends will buy Tim Kaine a mainstream record," said RNC Chairman Ed Gillespie. "Republicans will support our nominee through an aggressive fundraising, communications and grass-roots effort."