The Washington PostDemocracy Dies in Darkness

Virginia governor’s race smashed fundraising records

Republican Glenn Youngkin and Democrat Terry McAuliffe shake hands at the conclusion of the final debate of the gubernatorial race, hosted by the Northern Virginia Chamber of Commerce in Alexandria in September. (Win Mcnamee/Getty Images)
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RICHMOND — Republican Glenn Youngkin and Democrat Terry McAuliffe continued raising money at a blistering pace in the homestretch of the Virginia governor’s race, bringing their combined total to a record-smashing $136 million, the latest campaign finance reports show.

Post-Election Day reports made public Friday show that Youngkin, a first-time candidate and wealthy private-equity executive who prevailed in the race, raised a total of $67.9 million over the campaign, including $20 million in loans from his personal fortune.

McAuliffe, a former governor who first made his name in politics as a record-breaking fundraiser for Bill and Hillary Clinton, brought in a total of about $68 million.

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This was the first race in which McAuliffe, who served from 2014 to 2018 after unsuccessfully seeking the Democratic gubernatorial nomination in 2009, did not enjoy a hefty financial advantage over his opponent.

Both candidates far eclipsed the sums raised and spent in the governor’s race four years ago, when now-Gov. Ralph Northam (D) and Republican Ed Gillespie spent a combined $66 million in pursuit of the Executive Mansion, according to the Virginia Public Access Project, a nonpartisan tracker of money in state politics.

The governor’s race often draws national attention and money because Virginia is one of just two states — the other is New Jersey — that picks its chief executive a year after the presidential contest. The race is often seen as an early referendum on the new president and a test of the political winds ahead of the congressional midterms coming a year later.

Youngkin led a Republican sweep of statewide offices and flipped the House of Delegates back to narrow GOP control, a welcome change of fortunes for a party that had not won statewide since 2009 and had seen its losses mount while President Donald Trump was in the White House.

Youngkin raised nearly $10.2 million in the final weeks of the campaign, according to campaign finance reports detailing money raised and spent between Oct. 22 and Nov. 25. He did not make any additional personal loans to his campaign during that time. He spent $14.6 million and ended the period with $3.5 million on hand.

McAuliffe raised $11.5 million during that stretch, spent $13.3 million and closed out the race with just $98,764 in the bank.

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Lt. Gov.-elect Winsome E. Sears, a Republican former state delegate who represented Norfolk, raised $379,208 during the period and had $96,040 on hand. Del. Hala S. Ayala (D-Prince William) raised $416,128 and had $172,523 in the bank.

Virginia Attorney General Mark R. Herring (D), who lost his bid for a third term, reported raising $1.4 million and ended with $82,517 in the bank.

His successful challenger, Del. Jason S. Miyares (R-Virginia Beach), reported raising $424,371 and had $91,491 on hand.