RICHMOND — A little-known Republican state legislator who hopes to challenge Sen. Tim Kaine in November outraised his two GOP primary rivals in the first three months of this year.

Del. Nicholas J. “Nick” Freitas (Culpeper), in his third year in Virginia’s House of Delegates, took in $343,712 in the first quarter, according to the most recent reports filed with the Federal Election Commission.

That is more than what Republican contenders Corey A. Stewart and E.W. Jackson, both veterans of past statewide races, took in over the same period.

Stewart, chairman of the Prince William Board of County Supervisors who narrowly lost last year’s GOP gubernatorial primary to Ed Gillespie, raised $219,952 between January and March. Jackson, a Chesapeake minister who was his party’s nominee for lieutenant governor in 2013, raised $137,078.

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Freitas, a former Green Beret who announced his bid in January, also had more cash on hand than his rivals, with $251,694 going into April.

Stewart was the first of the three to jump into the race, and that head start has allowed him to raise more overall. He has brought in $608,662 since he announced his bid in July. Stewart spent $254,721 in the first three months of this year, leaving him $140,502 in the bank.

Jackson had $35,495 in cash on hand.

Stewart’s heavy spending represents a shift in strategy since the gubernatorial primary, when he was considered the underdog. With provocative calls to preserve Confederate monuments and crack down on illegal immigration, Stewart could largely rely on news coverage and not advertising to get his message out in that race.

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Now, Stewart is widely seen as the front-runner, given how close he came to toppling the better-funded Gillespie, a former Republican National Committee chairman who eventually lost the governor’s race to Ralph Northam (D).

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Whoever wins the June 12 primary is likely to be massively outspent by Kaine (D), a former governor and his party’s candidate for vice president in 2016.

Kaine has raised $16 million for the race, $2 million of it in the first quarter of 2018. He had more than $10.3 million on hand heading into April, even after spending $959,798 in the first quarter.

Freitas’s donors included N.W. “Hap” Chalmers, a retired Dominion Energy employee, and his wife, Rebecca, a Tidewater Community College professor. They each gave $2,700. Travis Brown, a Midlothian, Tex., doctor, gave $2,000.

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Stewart’s contributors included L.R. Carr, a stay-at-home mom from Shenandoah County who listed her employer as “My kids.” She gave $50. On the higher end was Tony Lundy, owner of a Danville company that refurbishes commercial trash bins, and Jongil Kim, a Manassas developer. They gave $1,000 and $2,500, respectively.

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Jackson drew considerable support from out-of-state donors, including Lee Roy Mitchell of Dallas, founder of Cinemark theaters, who gave $2,500. Paavo Ensio, a retired Arizona mining executive, gave $2,700. He also received $2,700 from William B. Holtzman, an oil company executive and father of state Sen. Jill Holtzman Vogel (R-Fauquier), who ran unsuccessfully for lieutenant governor last year.

Kaine’s donors included Marilyn W. Bos, a Leesburg teacher who gave $250, and John V. Ceriale of Palm Beach, Fla., founder of Prospect Hotel Advisors, who donated $2,700.

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