Democrat Danica Roem, the transgender ex-journalist who is challenging Del. Robert G. Marshall in Prince William County, far outpaced the conservative Republican in fundraising last month, an early indication that her campaign is drawing significant interest from inside and outside Virginia.
Roem, 32, raised $85,637 between June 2 and June 30, according to campaign disclosures released Monday by the Virginia Department of Elections. Marshall, 73, collected $4,585 during the same period.
The two candidates offer stark differences to voters in the changing 13th District, with Roem pushing to be the first openly transgender person elected in Virginia, and Marshall, a longtime foil to the LGBT community, reflecting a conservative streak that remains in the area he has represented since 1992.
Marshall sponsored Virginia’s constitutional amendment barring same-sex marriage — which stood until the U.S. Supreme Court declared such prohibitions unconstitutional — and this year proposed a “bathroom bill” that would have barred transgender people from using public restrooms designated for the sex with which they identify.
Roem has highlighted the bathroom bill in her campaign and accuses Marshall of doing too little to address traffic congestion and other problems in the district, which includes Gainesville and portions of Manassas.
In her effort to unseat a popular incumbent who is seeking his 14th term in office, the former reporter for the Gainesville Times has launched an aggressive campaign since she prevailed in the Democratic primary last month, knocking on voters’ doors each week in search of support this November.
“We’re building a campaign that can win, and we don’t have to sell out our values to do it,” Roem said. “I’ll be able to demonstrate through governing that a transgender person who has in-depth knowledge about the public policy issues affecting her district and has long-standing ties to her community can succeed in politics and government.”
Roem’s fundraising puts her close to Marshall in funds available. After expenses, including direct mail and phone calls to voters, Roem has $72,224 on hand. Marshall, who says he has not yet fully mounted his reelection campaign, has $81,542, reports show.
Roem received a mixture of large donations from people outside Virginia and amounts of as little as $25 from people in Virginia.
Chris Abele, the county executive in Milwaukee and chairman of the Gay and Lesbian Victory Fund, gave $35,000, her report shows. Flippable, the New York political consulting firm that has targeted Virginia as a place to win more Democratic seats, donated $10,000.
Marshall’s report shows that he has so far relied mostly on donors from in and around the district. He argued that the outside money going to Roem’s campaign shows that she does not have the support she needs from voters.
Marshall also said he won’t need as much campaign money as Roem will because he designs his own campaign brochures and relies on volunteers to help him get out the vote.
“I’m not worried,” Marshall said, adding that he has been focused on his wife Cathy’s recent bout with ovarian cancer and on issues in his district. Among them: a controversial state proposal to build a Bi-County Parkway between Prince William and Loudoun counties that would extend Route 234 north to Route 50, and a proposed Dominion Energy power-line route that residents in the Haymarket area are fiercely opposing.
“Am I talking to voters all the time? Yes,” Marshall said. “It’s just not the going-door-to-door stuff. But I’m not going to be in cruise-control mode very much longer.”