RICHMOND — Democrat Abigail Spanberger, in a tight race with Rep. Dave Brat (R), raised nearly $3.6 million over the past three months — a record quarter in Virginia’s 7th Congressional District and more than the $2.8 million Brat raised for his last two campaigns combined.
Spanberger announced her third-quarter fundraising total Sunday, ahead of a Monday night deadline. It appears she took in more than three times as much as the man she’s trying to unseat.
A spokeswoman for Brat said the incumbent raised more than $1 million in the third quarter.
“Congressman Brat believes 7th District voters will see through the millions of dollars in false attack ads from the Spanberger campaign and the liberal Super PACs trying to make Nancy Pelosi Speaker,” spokeswoman Katey Price said in a statement. “Congressman Brat will have the resources he needs to get his message out that he has done exactly what he said he would do on behalf of Virginia families.”
Brat raised $1.5 million for his first race, which was in 2014, and $1.3 million for his 2016 reelection.
Spanberger, a former CIA operative and political newcomer, had slightly outraised Brat through the reporting period that ended June 30, pulling in just under $1.4 million to his $1.3 million.
Spanberger’s haul speaks to the competitiveness of a contest in a longtime GOP stronghold that’s in play in the era of President Trump. Independent political analysts rate the race a toss-up.
Outside money also has been flowing. Since Oct. 1, committees independent of the candidates have spent $2.2 million on TV and social media ads in the central Virginia district, a mix of Richmond-area suburbs and rural areas stretching from Culpeper to Nottoway County.
Brat won the seat four years ago after pulling off a shocking primary upset over Eric Cantor, then the House majority leader. Even Cantor, at the height of his power, never brought in a quarterly sum on par with Spanberger’s latest. Cantor’s biggest three-month haul was $1.2 million, in the first quarter of 2012.
Spanberger’s campaign said she has not accepted any corporate PAC funds. Since getting into the race, she has raised $1.2 million from 7th District voters and $2.1 million from Virginia residents, the campaign said.
“From the beginning, our fundraising numbers always showed that we were building the foundation of our campaign right here, with voters in Central Virginia,” Spanberger said in a statement. “As we’ve turned this race into a toss-up, I am proud that so many people across the Commonwealth and country have joined to support our efforts. Our whole team is grateful for every person who has put their time, energy, enthusiasm, or money behind this campaign.”
Brat won reelection two years ago by 15 points, with only token Democratic opposition. This time, he faces a strong challenger in Spanberger, whose national security credentials could help her appeal to swing voters and moderate Republicans. Brat also faces head winds from Washington in a polarized district. Trump remains popular in its rural areas but has greatly energized Democrats in its suburbs, where Democrats flipped several GOP House of Delegates seats in elections last year.
Brat and Spanberger are scheduled to meet in their first and likely only debate from 6:30 to 8 p.m. Monday. It is being sponsored by the Culpeper Chamber of Commerce at Germanna Community College’s Culpeper campus and will be broadcast on Richmond’s CBS affiliate, WTVR.