Virginia’s gubernatorial candidates together raised $28.3 million in the first three weeks of October. Democratic candidate Terry McAuliffe raised $12.9 million, with $1.9 million cash on hand. GOP candidate Glenn Youngkin raised $15.4 million, with nearly $7.9 million cash on hand at the end of the reporting period, according to The Virginia Public Access Project. Youngkin’s fundraising includes another $3.5 million in self-loans, for a total $20 million that he has loaned himself throughout the campaign.
Democratic political operative Paul Goldman said that campaign finance reports may be misleading, since campaign staff can manipulate billing dates so that they appear to have more cash on hand.
“Sometimes you can panic people. I’m not saying that’s what’s going on. I’m just saying it’s a tactic that can be used, so you don’t know exactly what to make of the money,” he said.
“This late money, honestly, doesn’t really matter,” CNalysis Director Chaz Nuttycombe said.
From October 1 through October 21, Youngkin spent about $10.8 million plus $279,897 in in-kind expenditures. His expenses include $6.6 million to Alexandria-based advertising company Smart Media Group, LLC. McAuliffe spent about $15.6 million plus $3.2 million in in-kind expenditures. His expenses include $8.4 million to Pennsylvania-based advertising company Grassroots Media LLC.
McAuliffe’s top donors in that period include People for the American Way, a non-profit aimed at stopping conservative political initiatives. Other top donors include Everytown for Gun Safety, the Democratic Governors Association, union the Greater PA Carpenters PEC, and super PAC Working for Working Americans.
Youngkin’s top donors in the first weeks of October include the Republican Governors Association, LSMP LLC, individual Jones Roger Wayne, and former Trump official Linda McMahon.
So far in the campaigns, the two candidates have raised over $100 million, according to The Washington Post.
“Both sides have had, and will have, more than enough money to make their points. They’ve exceeded how much money they need to run a credible campaign. So they’re just spending money wildly now,” Goldman said.
Youngkin’s ability to self-fund was one of the selling points for his nomination by the then cash-strapped Republican Party of Virginia (RPV). Youngkin has also donated nearly $ 1 million to the RPV, and is funding down-ballot candidates through his Virginia Wins PAC. McAuliffe has given $3.9 million to the Democratic Party of Virginia, and has supported a few down-ballot candidates.
“When Terry ran the last time, he had a two-to one money advantage. He doesn’t have that this time, and so this is probably first time he’s ever run where he doesn’t have the money advantage. And so, you know, I think that’s something that concerns him. It should. But on the other hand, how much money do you need,” Goldman said.
He said, “If you believe that it takes this kind of money to win, then Democrats and Republicans have picked their strongest candidate, because nobody could beat these numbers. Now if you believe that you don’t need that much money, and you could have gotten by with half, no matter what the Republicans spend, well then you could say, ‘Well these other candidates maybe could have done better.’ But I don’t think so. I think it’s fair to say that both of these are the strongest candidates that either party, realistically, could have nominated.”
Delegate Wendell Walker (R-Lynchburg), a member of the RPV’s governing body the State Central Committee, supported Delegate Kirk Cox (R-Colonial Heights) for the nomination. But after Youngkin was chosen, Walker said he was won over by Youngkin, but not by his fundraising abilities.
“I don’t think money paid a factor in the election nomination process or where we are now,” Walker said.
“I really don’t look at the money part of it in politics like some people do. I’m one of these guys, I look at the issues, and the messenger, and who I believe can deliver the message to the people. I mean there were some wealthy people involved in the nomination process,” he said. “Glenn has been a very successful businessman and he chooses to invest in the campaign, that’s fine. Look at Terry McAuliffe, the number one fundraiser for the DNC [Democratic National Committee.]”
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Eric Burk is a reporter at The Virginia Star and The Star News Network. Email tips to [email protected].
Photo “Glenn Youngkin” by Glenn Youngkin. Photo “Terry McAuliffe” by Terry McAuliffe. Background Photo “Virginia State Capitol” by Martin Kraft CC BY-SA 3.0.