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Four Va. Democrats have commanding financial lead in congressional race

By Ben Pershing
Washington Post Staff Writer
Saturday, July 17, 2010; B04

Virginia's four potentially vulnerable Democratic members of Congress all have commanding financial leads over their opponents, giving them a key strategic advantage as they battle anti-incumbent head winds between now and November.

Reports filed with the Federal Election Commission show that Democratic Reps. Rick Boucher, Gerald E. Connolly, Glenn Nye and Tom Perriello each ended the second quarter of the year with at least $1.3 million in the bank, while their four GOP challengers each had less than $300,000 available as of June 30.

Incumbents usually, but don't always, outraise challengers, and total campaign cash is only one of many factors that determine the winners on Election Day. But the Democrats' edge at this point means that Republicans will have to spend more time on the fundraising circuit and will be less able to saturate the airwaves with advertisements. It also means that national Republicans might have to make difficult decisions about which of their candidates to assist financially.

"Republicans talk a big game about the strength of their candidates, but these finance reports show a surge in support for

independent-minded, results-oriented Democrats," said Jesse Ferguson, spokesman for the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, wondering which GOP candidate will be the first one national party leaders "abandon to the sidelines."

-- In the 11th District in Northern Virginia, Oakton businessman Keith Fimian had $269,000 in the bank at the end of June, while Connolly had $1.3 million. Connolly outraised Fimian in April, May and June, $385,000 to $333,000.

-- In the 9th District in the southwest region of the state, Boucher had $2 million in the bank at the end of June, while state House Minority Leader H. Morgan Griffith (R-Salem) had $297,000. They raised similar amounts for the quarter -- $298,000 for Griffith and $285,000 for Boucher.

-- In the 5th District, which cuts from north of Charlottesville down to the North Carolina border, Perriello had $1.7 million on hand as of June 30, while state Sen. Robert Hurt (R-Pittsylvania) reported $216,000. The Republican raised a total of $376,000 for the quarter, while the Democrat raised $660,000.

-- And in the Hampton Roads-based 2nd District, Nye reported $1.3 million available at the end of the quarter after raising $326,000. Auto dealer Scott Rigell (R) had $227,000 left after raising $579,000, although Rigell is wealthy and is potentially able to erase some of that difference from his own pocket.

Fimian, Hurt and Rigell had to overcome tough primaries before they could claim the Republican nominations, and so their fundraising from now through November will probably exceed the pace they set earlier in the year.

Andy Seré, National Republican Congressional Committee spokesman, said the four Democrats remained vulnerable, despite the financial breakdown.

"Incumbents leading the fundraising race is the norm," Seré said, adding that "what is uncommon -- and deeply encouraging for us" is that the Republicans were generally outperforming the Democrats in publicly released polls.

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