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The race, one of only two in the country this fall, is drawing national attention.
Thursday, August 8, 2013
RICHMOND — Virginia’s gubernatorial contest, one of only two in the country in 2013, is capturing national attention — and increasingly, national money.
The Republican Governors Association recently made another significant contribution to GOP Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli’s campaign, while a California-based billionaire’s political operation will help support Terry McAuliffe, the Democratic nominee for governor.
Though New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie faces re-election this year, the contest is not considered as competitive as Virginia’s race — Christie had a 2-1 lead over his Democratic challenger in a July poll from Quinnipiac University.
Cuccinelli and McAuliffe have been running close in the polls, but McAuliffe, a former Democratic National Committee chairman, had $6 million in cash on hand as of June 30, to Cuccinelli’s nearly $2.7 million.
Both are getting the majority of their campaign donations from out of state and both national political parties are investing heavily in the swing-state race.
“The reason so many groups are spending big on Virginia is because we truly are the only game in town this year. New Jersey is all but over, and the only thing people care about in New York City is the fate of Anthony Weiner,” said Larry Sabato, head of the Center for Politics at the University of Virginia.
“So on the night of the election, both parties and most political figures will look to Virginia. The results here will guide the analysts and their predictions about 2014 — however inaccurate these hasty conclusions will prove to be.”
The Republican Governors Association, which has given Cuccinelli’s campaign $2 million in cash, reported three in-kind donations last week totaling $723,444 for a media buy and ad production.
That follows a $717,561 in-kind donation the governors association made to Cuccinelli’s campaign on July 22 for a media buy, according to the Virginia Public Access Project.
The conservative Citizens United Productions — whose past films include critical looks at Hillary Clinton and President Barack Obama — recently released a 30-minute film critical of McAuliffe, called “Fast Terry,” which the group says it has licensed to show on three broadcast stations in southern Virginia starting this month.
Because the Republican Governors Association is registered with the state board of elections as a 527 Committee, it must disclose its donors each time it donates to a candidate.
The Democratic Governors Association, which has given McAuliffe about $2 million, is giving through its Super PAC, so any additional donations to McAuliffe’s campaign would not show until the campaign finance report due Sept. 16, according to the Virginia Public Access Project.
McAuliffe is gaining the support of Tom Steyer, a billionaire who founded a hedge fund and serves as co-founder of Advanced Energy Economy, which seeks to raise awareness of “advanced energy.”
Steyer’s NextGen Climate Action political committee plans to help with get-out-the-vote efforts as well as paid media, with its first support for TV ads expected to start this week.
Steyer has been politically active in the past. A major fundraiser for Obama, Steyer was active in the recent special election in Massachusetts to choose that state’s new U.S. senator. He was mentioned as a possible Energy secretary in Obama’s second term.
Other high profile, out-of-state donors have chipped in to both campaigns.
Wichita, Kan.-based Koch Industries has given $35,000 to Cuccinelli’s campaign and David Koch gave $50,000. The Koch brothers, Charles and David, are billionaire industrialists known for donating to conservative candidates and causes.
Cuccinelli also received $30,000 from Foster Friess, the Jackson, Wyo., businessman and social conservative who bankrolled former Sen. Rick Santorum’s GOP presidential bid.
McAuliffe’s effort received $100,000 from former President Bill Clinton, $250,000 from the Firefighters Interested in Registration and Education PAC, and $200,000 from the American Federation of State County and Municipal Employees — half of which was reported Tuesday.
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