RICHMOND — Virginia Lt. Gov. Ralph Northam (D) has raised more than $1 million this year for his 2017 campaign for governor, overcoming a temporary and one-sided fundraising ban to beat Republican rival Ed Gillespie.
Northam, who as an elected official was prohibited from raising money during the 60-day General Assembly session that ended in March, raised $1.04 million over the first half of this year. He had $1.4 million in cash on hand by June 30.
Gillespie, who has never held elective office and was free to raise money all year, raised about $852,000 and had $1.05 million on hand, his campaign said Wednesday.
Both campaigns released financial summaries Wednesday, two days ahead of a deadline for filing formal campaign finance reports with the state.
The summaries provided the first peek at the relative fundraising strength of Northam, a pediatric neurologist and former state senator who has the backing of a sitting governor and no primary opponent, and Gillespie, a political strategist and former White House counselor to President George W. Bush who has two rivals for the GOP nomination.
Gillespie announced in April that he had raised $749,000 since November, when he launched his political action committee, Let’s Grow, Virginia! But Northam, who was primarily raising funds through a campaign account, did not have to file a report at that time. (Campaign accounts must report every six months in non-election years, while PACs must do so quarterly.)
Both campaigns touted their fundraising hauls as good news.
“Virginians want their next Governor to build on our economic progress by promoting Virginia’s top notch work force, favorable business environment, and best quality of life while also rejecting the dangerous social agenda that threatens women’s access to health care,” Northam said in a written statement. “That’s why our grassroots campaign is fueled by 6,700 contributions in just 16 weeks, 91% of which are from Virginians.”
Chris Leavitt, executive director of Gillespie’s PAC, said that since Gillespie began raising money, 77 percent of donations have come from in state. He also said that more than 2,000 Virginians had signed up to volunteer for Gillespie.
“Virginians are ready to rally behind conservative leadership that is going to get our economy growing in a sustainable and real way,” Leavitt said in a written statement. “These numbers are further evidence that Ed Gillespie is building the kind of serious and strong operation necessary for a Republican to win next year’s gubernatorial race.”
Gillespie, who nearly unseated U.S. Sen. Mark R. Warner (D-Va.) in 2014, is considered the leading contender for the GOP nomination. But he faces competition from Prince William County Executive Corey A. Stewart and U.S. Rep. Rob Wittman, both of whom have said they intend to run.
Stewart and Wittman are not expected to file reports Friday because they have not formally launched their campaigns.
So far, Northam is the only Democrat running to succeed the term-limited governor, Terry McAuliffe (D).