Donors to Wolf's Foe Are Mostly Outside Va.
Tuesday, March 18, 2008
Democrat Judy Feder, in her second bid to unseat Rep. Frank R. Wolf (R-Va.), often cites her formidable fundraising as a sign of her support among voters.
In an e-mail to supporters in January announcing that she had raised close to $600,000 in 2007, she wrote that the "incredible outpouring of support for our campaign demonstrates that Virginians are frustrated with the lack of leadership in Washington and are ready for change in 2008."
But a closer look at Feder's most recent financial reports shows that relatively few Virginians contributed to that sum. Nearly three-quarters of Feder's individual contributions of $200 or more came from outside the state, including donations from Maryland, the District, New York and California, according to campaign finance records. That could leave her vulnerable to attacks that she lacks local support, political observers said.
"If I'm imagining myself as a Democratic Party official in my district, I'm concerned about it," said Mark J. Rozell, a professor of public policy at George Mason University. "I'd want to be able to show she has a base of support, people who are . . . committed enough that they're willing to make a sacrifice for it. You want it coming from within the district."
Only 28 percent of the money from Feder's individual contributions through the end of last year came from Virginia, according to CQ MoneyLine, a campaign finance data service. Of those donations, which totaled about $140,000, fewer than half the donors listed addresses within the 10th Congressional District, a Washington Post analysis found. Contributions of less than $200 were excluded from the analysis because they are not required to be itemized.
Allowing for some donors who may have listed business rather than home addresses, that means only a small minority of Feder's contributors could actually vote for her in November if she secures the Democratic nomination in June.
The 10th District stretches from McLean to Winchester and touches Clarke, Fairfax, Fauquier, Frederick, Loudoun, Prince William and Warren counties.
Feder, who said she saw an increase in local support as her last campaign progressed, said she is seeing the same uptick this time around. She also said she is "proud" of her out-of-state support, composed largely of academics and think-tank employees who she said share her views on such issues as health care.
"I've spent my career in promoting good policy," said Feder, who worked on the failed Clinton health-care initiative in the 1990s and cites affordable health care as a top goal. "I am enormously proud of the support I've gotten from the policy community."
By contrast, Wolf -- who has been solidifying support in the district for more than two decades -- received 72 percent of his funds raised through individuals this campaign cycle from Virginia. Of those in-state donations, which totaled about $340,000, about 70 percent of the donors had addresses in the 10th District.
"When you look at a campaign and all the money is coming from outside . . . that's just an indication of support from the people," Wolf said. His donations, he said, "come from voters that live in this district, that know me, that know what I've done on issues, whether it be fighting gangs or widening I-66. . . . I've raised money from where I represent and where I live."
As of the last campaign finance filings, Wolf had raised $740,298 from all sources, with more than 75 percent coming from individuals. Feder had raised $588,929, with more than 90 percent coming from individuals.