Republican gubernatorial candidate Jerry W. Kilgore raised $2.1 million last month, more than twice the amount raised by his opponent Timothy M. Kaine, and cut into the Democrat's financial lead.
Kilgore's campaign said the former attorney general's haul last month -- nudged in part by early returns from a Fairfax County fundraiser next week that will be attended by President Bush -- means that the candidate's effort is gaining energy. Kilgore has raised $10.8 million.
"We feel the campaign has been running strongly for a long time now," said Tim Murtaugh, Kilgore's press secretary. "The candidate . . . continues to build momentum."
Kaine, the lieutenant governor, raised a little more than $1 million, the campaign reported, bringing his total to nearly $11.1 million. At the beginning of the reporting period, Kaine led Kilgore by about $1.3 million.
Delacey Skinner, Kaine's press secretary, said the campaign is not worried about the fundraising totals from last month. "The way we measure our success is, 'Do you have enough money to do what you set out to do in your budget?' " she said. "We've kept pace with, and at times exceeded, our goals. That's what you need to do."
Skinner said Kilgore's contested primary last month with Warrenton Mayor George B. Fitch, which Kilgore won easily, might have given him a boost in attention that probably led to higher contributions. Kaine did not have a primary challenger. Skinner called the Bush event a one-time boost to the Republican's coffers.
"We expected them to bring in quite a bit of money from this Bush fundraiser," she said. Kaine raised more than $1 million in May at an event headlined by Gov. Mark R. Warner (D).
Although Kilgore bested Kaine last month, the Republican trails his opponent in cash on hand. Kaine will report about $5 million in cash, while Kilgore has $4.6 million on hand.
Mike McCall, the press secretary for state Sen. H. Russell Potts Jr. (R-Winchester), the race's independent candidate, said the campaign will release fundraising tallies Friday, when they are due. As of June 1, Potts reported raising about $425,000.
The race between the two major-party candidates has attracted national attention. Virginia and New Jersey are the only states with gubernatorial elections this year, and both parties have made the commonwealth a priority.
So far, the two candidates have made full use of their national bases. Kaine received a pledge of $5 million from national Democrats several months ago. Ken Mehlman, the National Republican Committee chairman, has campaigned twice for Kilgore in the past six weeks.
The two candidates are on their way to record-breaking fundraising. Kilgore has raised almost as much as the 2001 GOP gubernatorial candidate, Mark L. Earley, who finished with $11 million. Kaine, with $5 million on hand, has more money than Warner did at this point in 2001.
As the Virginia race slogs through the summer months -- a traditionally dry spell for fundraising -- Kilgore and Kaine hope to use national political luminaries to keep the money coming at energetic levels. Bush will raise money for Kilgore next week, and Kaine has scheduled an event for July 20 at the Clarendon Ballroom in Arlington that will feature U.S. Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.), who is considered one of the national party's rising stars and often attracts large audiences.
Staff writer Michael D. Shear contributed to this report.