By Rosalind S. Helderman and Anita Kumar
Washington Post Staff Writers
Friday, October 16, 2009
Virginia Republican Robert F. McDonnell entered October with $1.8 million more to spend on his bid for governor than his Democratic opponent, R. Creigh Deeds, a figure that helps explain why his ads have been more prevalent in recent weeks and that provides McDonnell a significant advantage for the campaign's final sprint.
According to finance reports due to the state Thursday, McDonnell began this month with $4.5 million to spend before the election Nov. 3, compared with $2.7 million for Deeds.
The reports cover September and show that both candidates collected more that month than in either of the previous two as they have accelerated their fundraising for the last dash. McDonnell collected $3.8 million from 6,440 individual donors last month, and Deeds took in $3.5 million from 3,763 contributors.
McDonnell has had more to spend throughout the general election campaign, particularly because Deeds came out of a tough three-way primary for his party's nomination in June nearly broke.
Deeds spent much of June and July behind closed doors raising money -- a quiet period for his campaign, which he has been criticized for by some fellow Democrats anxious about polls showing McDonnell with a comfortable lead in the race.
During his campaign, McDonnell has raised $18.9 million, and Deeds has brought in $14.2 million. Together, the two have collected a little less than Democratic Gov. Timothy M. Kaine and his opponent Republican Jerry Kilgore in 2005, a sign that the recession might be limiting donations despite interest in the race.
Money doesn't guarantee electoral success -- Kilgore outraised Kaine in 2005, and Deeds won the Democratic nomination despite being significantly outspent. But McDonnell's advantage has been extended by an aggressive independent effort on his behalf by the Republican Governors Association, which has aired $4 million worth of ads for the former attorney general in recent weeks.
The race, which, with the gubernatorial contest in New Jersey, is one of only two state campaigns this year and is widely viewed as a precursor to the 2010 midterm election, has drawn significant cash from national organizations.
Deeds got $500,000 last month from the Democratic Governors Association -- which also ran a multimillion-dollar ad campaign in the spring to ding McDonnell while the Democrats were occupied with their primary. Deeds received another half-million dollars from the Democratic National Committee.
Unions continued to contribute heavily to the Bath County senator's campaign. He received a $400,000 check from the American Federation of State County and Municipal Employees and $100,000 from the Service Employees International Union.
U.S. Sen. Mark Warner (D), a former governor, contributed $25,000, and his wife, Lisa Collis, gave $10,000 more. Deeds also received $100,000 from Sarah McWilliams, a wealthy innkeeper who operates a bed-and-breakfast in Bath. .
McDonnell's top donors included the Republican National Committee, which gave $400,000, and Black Entertainment Television co-founder Sheila Johnson, who contributed $50,000. McDonnell released an ad Thursday featuring Johnson -- a prominent Democrat who apologized last week after a video surfaced of her mocking Deeds's stammering speech at a McDonnell campaign stop -- explaining that she thinks McDonnell would promote economic growth.
McDonnell also received $50,000 from the Washington Redskins, for whom his wife, Maureen, was once a cheerleader. He raised more than $500,000 at fundraisers with national Republicans, including U.S. House Minority Leader John A. Boehner (Ohio) and former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney.
He has also received significant contributions from corporate interests, including $25,000 from Northrop Grumman, a defense contractor whose bungled $2 billion contract to upgrade Virginia's computer networks has been under scrutiny in Richmond. The tobacco giant Altria contributed $25,000, and Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield donated $10,000.