Funds Aplenty for Last Lap

By Sandhya Somashekhar and Amy Gardner
Washington Post Staff Writers
Friday, October 17, 2008

Northern Virginia candidates for Congress are attracting millions of dollars in campaign contributions, and with less than three weeks before the election they have substantial resources to mount a television and mail blitz, according to the most recent campaign finance filings.

Former governor Mark R. Warner (D) announced yesterday he has raised $12.6 million and still has $3.6 million in the bank in his race for the seat held by Sen. John W. Warner (R), who is not seeking another term.

His GOP opponent, James S. Gilmore III, another former governor, declined to release financial reports to the media. They were due Wednesday but were not yet posted on the Federal Elections Commission Web site yesterday. He has struggled all year to raise money for his campaign.

In the 11th Congressional District, which includes parts of Fairfax and Prince William counties, the two well-funded major party candidates seeking to replace retiring Rep. Tom Davis (R-Va.) have approximately the same amount of money, according to statements filed with the Federal Elections Commission. The statements cover the quarter that ended Sept. 30.

Democrat Gerald E. Connolly, chairman of the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors, reported $646,252 in the bank on Sept. 30, while Republican Keith S. Fimian, a private business owner, reported $718,630. Fimian's total includes a $325,000 loan to himself.

Similarly, in the contest unfolding further west in the 10th District, incumbent Republican Frank R. Wolf and Democrat Judy M. Feder have each raised more than $1.7 million since the campaign began. Wolf has the upper hand, in that he still has about $1 million in the bank, while Feder has about $650,000 -- a significant advantage for the 28-year incumbent.

And in the 8th District, which includes Arlington, Alexandria and parts of Fairfax County, veteran Rep. James P. Moran Jr. (D-Va.) holds an overwhelming lead over his GOP opponent with almost $600,000 in the bank. Challenger Mark W. Ellmore said yesterday he had delivered his statements to the FEC, although they were not on the Web site as of last night. He said he had about $11,000 on hand.

Luke McFarland, Feder's campaign manager, said that the campaign spent much of its money earlier to raise Feder's profile. Feder, a former Georgetown University professor, lost to Wolf in 2006.

McFarland noted that Feder, who is known for her strength in fundraising, significantly outraised Wolf in the period, collecting $538,072 from July 1 through Sept. 30. Wolf raised $366,185 in the same time frame. "We feel really good. We're peaking at the right time," McFarland said.

Wolf's campaign has been critical of Feder's fundraising activities, noting that a majority of her money comes from outside the district. "The overwhelming majority is not from people who can vote for her," said Wolf campaign spokesman Dan Scandling.

The campaign has also criticized her for taking thousands of dollars from Native American tribes that operate casinos. Wolf has said he will not take money from gambling interests. Feder's campaign has accused Wolf of seeking to distract voters from his record and Feder's "change" message by focusing on Feder's campaign contributions.

Fimian, another newcomer, is relatively unknown compared with Connolly, who won reelection to his second term as chairman a year ago. That means Fimian needs money to get his name and message to voters if he is to win Nov. 4.

Fimian's report also features a $23,700 refund to John A. Andrews III, a Leesburg developer who gave Fimian $25,000 this year -- vastly more than the $2,300 federal limit for individual donations. Connolly campaign manager James Walkinshaw said one reason to wait several months to return an improper donation would be to temporarily inflate contribution totals "and deceive people regarding your viability as a candidate."

Fimian campaign manager Zach Condry said there was "absolutely no intentional effort at all." It just took some time to process the return, he said.

Staff writer Tim Craig contributed to this report.

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