RICHMOND — Virginia state Sen. Jill Holtzman Vogel has raised $560,000 to fund her 2017 bid for lieutenant governor since announcing her candidacy in March, bringing in a near-record amount for this stage of the campaign.
Only former Lt. Gov. Bill Bolling (R) raised more than Vogel (R-Fauquier) over a comparable period, taking in $727,000 over the first six months of 2008. And that was when Bolling was an incumbent seeking a second term as lieutenant governor in the 2009 election, with only token opposition for the GOP nod.
“I am grateful to the hundreds of supporters across the Commonwealth who are inspired by our message of bold conservative leadership,” Vogel said in a statement.
It was not immediately clear how Vogel’s haul, which she disclosed to The Washington Post on Thursday, compared with that of one Republican rival, state Sen. Bryce E. Reeves (Spotsylvania).
The deadline for filing campaign finance reports covering the first six months of 2016 is Friday. Reeves’s campaign has not released its figures.
Vogel far surpassed fundraising by another GOP hopeful, Del. Glenn R. Davis Jr. (Virginia Beach), who has largely self-funded his campaign and has not begun to solicit donations. He said he has put in about $30,000 of his own money and received about $5,000 in unsolicited contributions.
Davis said the more significant figure for his campaign is 8,000: the number of miles he has put on the 27-foot recreational vehicle he has used to tour the state.
“I believe in running the state like a business, and the first thing you do when you decide to start a business is not raise money; it’s go out there and make sure you have a viable idea, that your product resonates, your message resonates, and you know you can commit the time necessary to be successful,” said Davis, a telecommunications management entrepreneur. “We said we’re doing this differently and we meant it.”
Only one Democrat has announced a bid for lieutenant governor: Justin Fairfax. The former federal prosecutor and 2013 attorney general candidate raised $194,000.
“We are excited about the early enthusiasm for Justin’s candidacy for lieutenant governor of Virginia,” Fairfax’s campaign manager, Zakiya Thomas, said in a statement. “We look forward to continuing to build upon this great momentum. Justin continues to run an amazingly strong campaign all across the Commonwealth, and his message of fighting for economic security and opportunity for all Virginians is resonating.”
Vogel, managing partner of a law firm specializing in campaign finance law and the former chief counsel of the Republican National Committee, and Reeves, a Spotsylvania businessman, former Army Ranger and former Prince William County narcotics detective, have been crisscrossing the state as well. Vogel noted that her efforts to build conservative grass-roots support are being led by E.W. Jackson, a Chesapeake minister who was the Republican nominee for lieutenant governor in 2013.
Jackson, who lost that race to now-Lt. Gov. Ralph Northam (D), has made a series of controversial comments — suggesting, for instance, that birth defects are caused by sin and that yoga-style meditation presents an opening for Satan.
But he has been popular on the right as a charismatic defender of conservative values. His support could help Vogel with conservative GOP activists, who would play an outsize role in choosing the nominee if the decision is made, as planned, at a party convention rather than through a statewide primary.
Virginia’s lieutenant governorship is a part-time job with only one constitutionally prescribed duty: presiding over the state Senate, with the power to break most tie votes. The Senate has been closely divided between Republicans and Democrats in recent years, resulting in more ties for the lieutenant governor to decide.
The position is often viewed as a steppingstone to higher office. Northam is running to succeed Gov. Terry McAuliffe (D), who is term-limited.