Kaine, Warner Pile Up Donations

By Tim Craig and Anita Kumar
Washington Post Staff Writers
Tuesday, October 16, 2007

RICHMOND, Oct. 15 -- Gov. Timothy M. Kaine and former governor Mark R. Warner are dominating the race for campaign cash as the two Democrats step up efforts to take from Republicans the General Assembly this fall and a U.S. Senate seat next year.

In campaign finance reports filed Monday, Kaine and Warner reported that they each had more than $1 million in the bank, which political observers said was another sign that the state's Democratic Party is on the rebound.

The reports, including those filed by all candidates running for the General Assembly, underscore the challenges Virginia Republicans face as the state's popular current and former governors pursue their goal of turning the once reliably conservative commonwealth into a blue state.

Warner raised $1.1 million for his Senate race in the three weeks after his Sept. 13 announcement that he plans to seek the seat of Sen. John W. Warner (R), who is retiring. He raised half that amount during the first three days of his campaign, an impressive feat, because federal law limits donors to contributing no more than $2,300 to individual campaigns.

Kaine, whose donors are not limited under state law, is focusing on helping more Democrats get elected to the House of Delegates and state Senate on Nov. 6, when all 140 seats are up for election. Kaine's political action committee, Moving Virginia Forward, took in a little more than $1 million between July 1 and Sept. 30.

He gave more than $500,000 to 17 Democratic House and Senate candidates in September but still has $1 million to spend during the final three weeks of the campaign.

Kaine's money in the bank -- which doesn't include a $250,000 check he received from a Radford businessman Oct. 4 -- is being complemented by House and Senate Democratic leaders' efforts to raise money.

The Senate Democratic Caucus, according to party officials, had $851,889 in cash on hand as of Sept. 30, a huge sum that can help candidates in close races. This month, it has taken in an additional $330,000. As of Sept. 30, the House Democratic Caucus had $550,000 to spend on House candidates this month.

Charlie Kelly, director of Kaine's political committee, said Democrats' success at raising money proves that "people like the direction the governor is taking Virginia."

"His main focus this year is to elect more results-oriented Democratic leadership to the General Assembly, and the money doesn't do any good sitting in a bank account," Kelly said. "He is going to be working hard to make sure the candidates have the money they need."

House Republican leadership committees are outraising their Democratic counterparts, but Senate Democratic leaders have twice as much money to spend in the campaign's final days. A change in four Senate seats held by Republicans would tip the Senate to the Democrats.

House Speaker William J. Howell (R-Stafford) reported that his political committee, Dominion Leadership Trust, has about $660,000 in the bank. Other accounts under Howell's control give the House Republican leadership a total of about $1 million to spend to help its candidates, he said.

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