Leaders of Democratic presidential candidate John F. Kerry's national campaign have decided to spend an additional $50,000 in Virginia, signaling that they have not given up all hope of winning the state.
Kerry's campaign largely abandoned Virginia this month after investing almost $2 million this summer on television ads and a statewide staff. The campaign's state director and spokesman were sent to states considered more competitive, leaving the campaign exclusively to state party workers.
Now, though, state Democrats say they plan to use the extra money for radio or television advertisements in rural parts of the state. They also said that a fundraiser with author John Grisham last week raised a substantial amount of money, including a $100,000 check from one woman. They would not disclose the total raised.
"We believe we can win Virginia," said Lawrence H. Framme III, chairman of Kerry's campaign in the state.
"Do we have any realistic chance of Kerry-Edwards putting a quarter million dollars in here? No. But we will have enough money for media where we need it."
Aides to Gov. Mark R. Warner (D) said that the state's popular chief executive is not convinced that Republicans have a lock on the state's 13 electoral votes, despite Democrats not winning them since 1964.
Mary A. "Mame" Reiley, Warner's chief political strategist, said that last week, Warner called Steve Elmendorf, Kerry's deputy campaign manager, and asked for $25,000 to try to secure a long-shot win. Elmendorf doubled the amount, Reiley said.
"He has advocated with the national [campaign]," Framme said of Warner. "He's been very successful."
Compared with the millions of dollars the two campaigns are spending in other states, the $50,000 for Virginia is tiny. Republican strategists called it nothing more than a token amount. They said that the Kerry campaign's earlier decision to send its campaign staff to battleground states speaks louder than a small amount of new money.
They also said they believe there is little evidence of growing support for Kerry among the many veterans in Virginia or among people in rural areas, two key constituencies in Kerry's strategy for the state.
"I don't believe that's a real investment in terms of anybody in the Kerry-Edwards campaign being serious about Virginia," said Ken Hutcheson, state director for Bush's campaign.
"We are still moving forward with the momentum and enthusiasm that I firmly believe will carry the day."
Democrats say they are not willing to give up.
Three years ago, Warner campaigned well enough in the rural, traditionally conservative parts of the state to win. Framme said he believes that turnout and Election Day get-out-the-vote efforts could give Kerry a win if the race is close enough.
"You give me 10 days out and a level playing field, I'll win it nine times out of 10," Framme said.