Virginia Capitol

The Virginia State Capitol in Richmond

RICHMOND, Va. (AP) — The battle for control of Virginia's legislature is leading to record-breaking political fundraising as special interest groups spend big in the final weeks of the contest.

Virginia is the only state where Democrats have a chance to flip control of the state legislature this year and newly filed campaign finance reports reflect national groups' intense interest in the race. General Assembly candidates have raised about $53 million so far, up about 67% from the last time all 140 seats were up for grabs in 2015, according to the nonpartisan Virginia Public Access Project. Democrats have more than doubled their haul from four years ago, accounting for most of the increase, VPAP reports.

"Winter is coming for Virginia Republicans. Absolute domination across the board," said Jake Rubenstein, spokesman for the Democratic Party of Virginia.

Republicans have a slim majority in both the state House and the state Senate.

Democrats are hoping to continue their recent success in suburban districts, where voter antipathy toward President Donald Trump helped power a blue wave election in 2017. Helping Democrats in key suburban races are national groups like Everytown for Gun Safety, a gun-control group backed by former Mayor Michael Bloomberg, and Emily's List, an organization dedicated to electing women who support abortion rights.

Republicans are relying on corporate donors for their large donations. The Republican State Leadership Committee, a national GOP group funded largely by big businesses, has spent more than $2 million helping Republican candidates in tight races.

Democrats outraised their Republican counterparts in every competitive Senate race in the most recent reports, which cover September. Democrat Debra Rodman reported the biggest haul with more than $1 million in donations in September, raising about $600,000 more than incumbent Sen. Siobhan Dunnavant in a Richmond-area suburban seat. More than half of Rodman's fundraising came in the form of in-kind contributions for campaign work from groups like Planned Parenthood and Virginia League of Conservation Voters.

House races were a mixed bag, with some suburban candidates outraising their Democratic counterparts.

"Our Republican team is well positioned for the final sprint to November," said Garren Shipley, a spokesman for House Majority Leader Todd Gilbert.

Virginia's top statewide Democrats, who were weakened after a series of scandals earlier this year, also reported fundraising totals for their political action committees for the most recent quarter.

Gov. Ralph Northam, who was nearly forced to resign in February after a racist yearbook photo surfaced, reported raising more than $430,000. That's far below what his predecessors have raised in similar fundraising periods just before legislative elections, but a nearly 40 percent increase from the previous quarter.

Attorney General Mark Herring, who announced in February that he'd worn blackface in college, raised about $70,000. And Lt. Gov. Justin Fairfax, who has denied accusations of sexual abuse made earlier this year by two women, reported raising only $1,100. Both Herring and Fairfax have indicated they may run for governor in 2021.

Copyright 2019 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

(11) comments


If it was just about the money raised wouldn't Hillary be our President?

Duncan Idaho

She did get more votes, though.


@jke no one said it was "just about the money," but to counter your point- it is about the expected return on investment some of these donors are expecting IF their candidate wins (you must think these donors are spending thousands of dollars out of the goodness of their heart?). Oh, and it just so happens most of the guys and gals you are likely supporting which has an (R) after their name, are the biggest recipients of $$$ from real estate developers. i.e. State Senate So, if you do support them, then it will be interesting to see if you complain about development in Loudoun County. There are exceptions though, such as the candidates for the Catoctin BOS. That is why it is worth checking out VPAP.


"Buy one get one free" should be the Minchew-Higgins campaign slogan.


Most all candidates take in $$. Some take much more than others. It is interesting to see who the top donors are by occupation and the specific donors behind that. For you folks that complain about overdevelopment, you may be surprised who is supporting who. Go to VPAP dot ORG to find out


I can but wonder how many of the candidates are/will be Bloomberg puppets???


Just think of all the favors, quid pro quos and sweetheart deals that will result from this money flowing to candidates.

Chris McHale

A true example that ALL politicians are up for sale.

Duncan Idaho

You will see the "Trump efect" filter down when the Virginia legislature turns blue. Maybe then the GOP will do some much needed soul searching.

Chris McHale

I have to admit I didn't waste anytime reading the article, but the fact that fund raising is up for politics is up but not for the needy isn't is all we should focus on.


It is disgusting! That this podunk county raises so much money for both local and state seats turns my stomach . I'm an independent who feels so helpless about it being all about the Parties and all the purely empty rhetoric about the people. They are ALL "up for sale". The new giys start out with the right intentions but soon learn that, if they win, unless they capitulate they're mere shadow figures.

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