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Most local money seems to be pouring into candidates for the House of Delegates.
Tuesday, June 4, 2013
Virginia’s political money chase continued through April and May, but while out-of-state funds poured into the gubernatorial race, the biggest-spending local contest was all homegrown.
At the same time that four GOP hopefuls sank more than $90,000 into last month’s contest for the Republican nomination to succeed retiring Del. Lacey Putney, I-Bedford, the latest campaign finance reports also show Democratic challengers in four Western Virginia races are amassing significant war chests for their races.
And data compiled by the Virginia Public Access Project suggest some traditionally Republican-leaning businesses and lobbyists are hesitant about giving much money, at least to the top of the ticket, political scientists say.
“I think there are a lot of people sitting on the fence now,” said Quentin Kidd, a political scientist at Christopher Newport University. That may not be an issue yet for Republican candidate Ken Cuccinelli, since his conservative volunteers are making up with energy and street-level organizing for any money constraint, said Tom Morris, former president of Emory & Henry College and a longtime analyst of state politics.
“But I suspect he’s concerned about it, and he’s probably out there talking” to business leaders to win them over, Morris said.
“Betting against [Democrat Terry] McAuliffe is something business isn’t going to want to do because he bears a grudge, while they’re not sure how cheesed off Cuccinelli would be,” said Hollins University political scientist Ed Lynch.
He thinks businesses that want to show their support for the GOP are steering funds to legislative races for now — the Virginia Public Access Project data show fundraising is continuing apace, even in districts where there is no contest.
Democrats’ attention may be turning to the House of Delegates, Lynch said. April and May saw tens of thousands of dollars flowing into the campaign funds of Democrats seeking to unseat Dels. Chris Head, R-Botetourt County; Joseph Yost, R-Blacksburg; and Kathy Byron, R-Campbell County, as well as the Democrat seeking to fill the seat of retiring Del. Anne Crockett-Stark, R-Wytheville.
“That five-figure mark is a biggie,” Lynch said.
Byron’s challenger, Katie Webb Cyphert, raised $45,000 just in April and May in her bid to unseat Byron, who raised only $3,000 during the two months but has a balance of $90,000 in her campaign fund.
Freeda Cathcart, making her second run against Head, raised nearly $29,000 in the two months, including her own $10,000 loan. She now has more than $31,000 on hand. Though Head raised less during the two months, he still has nearly $46,000 on hand.
James Harder, who is challenging Yost, raised $13,270, including a $10,000 from Cardinal Holdings, a Blacksburg company whose registered agent is his mother, Mary. Yost raised $7,290, and has slightly more cash on hand than Harder.
Jonathan McGrady, who is running for the open 6th District seat in Carroll, Smyth and Wythe counties, has raised nearly $37,000. He has roughly $4,000 more on hand than does one Republican candidate, Jeff Campbell, who raised just $550 during the two months. The other Republican in the race, Jack Weaver, raised no money during those months.
Virginia’s gubernatorial and legislative races, held the first year after a presidential election, have been attracting lots of outside money in recent years. But outsiders have made no bets in the race to succeed Putney, in the 19th House of Delegates district.
There, the winner of the GOP nomination, Terry Austin, raised nearly $42,000 for his campaign, mostly from his Botetourt County supporters and including $15,000 of his own money.
Jim McKelvey, a Moneta businessman, lent his campaign $100,000 and raised no other funds, while Zach Martin raised nearly 60 percent of his $12,800 from family members. Zachary Hatcher financed his $1,500 campaign out of his own pocket.
In the weeks since the firehouse primary that elected Austin, only $1,500 has come into his campaign fund.
“I did have one gentleman give me $500 — he’s my old grade school principal,” Austin said.
Morris said donations like that matter for more than what they buy. “You don’t just need it to buy ads, or to print signs,” he said. “You need fundraising to get your people excited and committed.”
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