As Parties Woo Va., Spending Soars

By Tim Craig
Washington Post Staff Writer
Wednesday, October 22, 2008

RICHMOND, Oct. 21 -- Virginia Republicans and Democrats are getting ready to spend unprecedented amounts of money for the final 10-day push to turn out voters for the Nov. 4 election as both presidential candidates hope the commonwealth will help them secure the White House.

In campaign finance reports filed Tuesday, the Virginia Democratic Party's coordinated campaign said it has spent $6.1 million so far this year, including $2.5 million last month, on priming its efforts to turn out voters for presidential nominee Barack Obama and Democratic congressional candidates.

The state party had $1.3 million in its federal account as of Sept. 31, but that figure has likely swelled since then as donations continue to pour in from across the country.

"This is by the far the largest field operation we have ever seen in Virginia," said Jared Leopold, a spokesman for the Democratic Party of Virginia.

Virginia Democrats have been outspending the state GOP in Virginia all year on get-out-the-vote efforts, but there are signs that is about to change.

The Republican Party of Virginia had $156,000 in its federal account as of Sept. 30. But state GOP chairman Jeffrey M. Frederick said the Republican National Committee has just transferred more than $3 million to the state party to help finance get-out-the-vote efforts for presidential nominee John McCain and local candidates.

"We are going to put every resource we can into winning Virginia," said Katie Wright, a spokeswoman for the Republican National Committee, which has $77 million in the bank and is also spending millions on mailers, robo-calls and other advertisements targeting Virginia voters.

The spending by both sides on get-out-the-vote efforts does not take into account the money senators Obama (Ill.) and McCain (Ariz.) are using to saturate the airwaves with television ads. Obama has been outspending McCain by 4 to 1 on local network television ads.

But former attorney general Jerry W. Kilgore, a co-chair of McCain's Virginia campaign, said Republicans plan to spend "at least 10 times as much" during the final days of the campaign this year than they did in 2004, when President Bush was comfortably ahead in the polls heading into Election Day.

"The ground war is going to be so intense this year," Kilgore said. "The phone calling, the door knocking, everything is so much more."

Despite the recent infusion of cash for the state party, Virginia Republicans concede they will likely be outspent by Obama and the Democratic National Committee when it comes to getting out the vote.

The Obama campaign reported on Sunday it had raised a record $150 million in September and had $133 million in the bank. The Obama campaign transferred just under $1 million to the state Democratic Party's coordinated campaign last month.

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