RICHMOND — A political action committee airing ads meant to boost Ken Cuccinelli II’s chances in the Virginia governor’s race has shifted its focus to a down-ticket Republican, bankrolling TV and radio spots for Mark Obenshain's bid for attorney general.
CommonSense Virginia PAC reported Tuesday that it would spend $110,000 on a radio ad promoting Obenshain, a state senator from Harrisonburg who is seen as the GOP’s best hope in next week’s elections. Obenshain's campaign also reported that CommonSense paid for $191,000 in TV ads.
The Virginia Public Access Project website reported on Monday that the PAC reduced a TV ad buy intended to help Cuccinelli, the current attorney general, who is lagging behind Democrat Terry McAuliffe in polls. The PAC reduced the amount it would spend to air the anti-McAuliffe commercial from $486,000 to $294,692.
The PAC’s shift toward the down-ticket race comes as a new Washington Post/Abt SRBI poll finds McAuliffe leading Cuccinelli by 12 points. State Sen. Ralph S. Northam (D-Norfolk) leads Chesapeake minister E.W. Jackson (R) by a similar margin in the race for lieutenant governor.
Republicans appear to think Obenshain, in a tight race with state Sen. Mark R. Herring, is their best bet. In the poll, Herring leads Obenshain 49 percent to 46 percent, within the survey’s margin of error.
VPAP’s report of large donations made in the past two days also found that the Republican State Leadership Committee sent $100,000 to Obenshain’s campaign, while the state party provided $54,000 in direct mail services.
Other donations reported Tuesday include $50,000 to Cuccinelli from Thomas Rastin, of Mount Vernon, Ohio, an executive with Ariel, which makes natural gas compressors.
McAuliffe, who has dominated in fundraising, picked up several checks for that amount: one from James M. Bernhard Jr., founder of The Shaw Group, a Baton Rouge, La.-based construction and engineering firm; one from MicroStrategy, a Tysons Corner software company; and one from Puri Sanjay, founder of Optimos, a Reston information technology provider.