Virginia Lt. Gov. Ralph Northam had nearly twice as much money in the bank as former U.S. Rep. Tom Perriello in early June as the two Democratic candidates for governor entered the closing days of a tight primary.
Campaign finance reports filed with the state Monday showed Northam with roughly $1.3 million in cash on hand as of June 1, while Perriello reported about $734,000. For the reporting period covering April 1 through June 1, Northam raised a little over $2 million, compared with $1.9 million for Perriello.
Republican gubernatorial front-runner Ed Gillespie, a former Republican National Committee chairman and political consultant, reported $2.4 million on hand after raising $1.1 million in the most recent reporting period. Though Gillespie lagged the Democrats in recent fundraising, polls have shown him with comfortable leads over Republican primary opponents Corey Stewart, chairman of the Prince William Board of County Supervisors, and state Sen. Frank Wagner of Virginia Beach. Stewart raised roughly $179,000 for the period and reported $186,000 on hand. Wagner raised almost $134,000 for the period and had nearly $60,000 in the bank.
Money could be a bigger factor in the competitive Democratic primary with Perriello and Northam trying to attract voters with costly TV ad campaigns ahead of the June 13 primaries. Northam a pediatric neurologist from Norfolk and former state senator backed by Virginia's Democratic establishment, is trying to hold off an unexpected challenge by Perriello, a Charlottesville native who recently worked as a U.S. State Department diplomat before getting into the governor's race in January.
According to data compiled by the Virginia Public Access Project, Northam's top contribution for the period was a $200,000 transfer on April 29 from his political action committee, Stronger Together PAC, which won't have to release an updated report until July because PACs file on a quarterly schedule. The Northam campaign voluntarily released a list of donors to the PAC for the reporting period, which included $10,000 donations from the Virginia Education Association and Richmond real estate company General Services Corp.
Baltimore Washington Construction & Public Employees, a labor union PAC, gave Northam $70,000 spread across four donations in the reporting period. Top Northam donor Michael Bills, a Charlottesville investor, added another $50,000, bringing his total contributions to Northam to $250,000 for the cycle. Northam continued accepting money linked to big Virginia companies, including $5,000 from Dominion Energy's PAC, a handful of smaller donations from Dominion executives and $10,000 from tobacco giant Altria.
Northam has called for a ban on all corporate donations to Virginia political candidates, but his campaign has said he will only try to reform campaign finance laws after the election and won't "unilaterally disarm" by refusing such donations.
Perriello, who opposes a controversial natural-gas pipeline project backed by Dominion, said early in his campaign that he would refuse money from Dominion and other state-regulated utilities. But he has drawn scrutiny for relying on big checks from deep-pocketed donors outside Virginia, cutting against his populist message. That trend continued on Perriello's latest campaign finance report, with $700,000, or more than a third of his haul, coming from his top three donors.
Billionaire New York-based investor George Soros doubled down on Perriello by giving another $250,000 on top of $250,000 he gave in January. Perriello received $300,000 from hedge fund manager Donald Sussman, a major Democratic donor from Connecticut tied to the Center for American Progress, a progressive think tank Perriello worked for after losing his 5th District congressional seat in 2010. The New York-based Avaaz Foundation, an online advocacy group Perriello co-founded, gave $150,000, bringing its total contributions to Perriello to nearly $400,000. The Northam campaign has criticized the Avaaz donations as "dark money" because the group doesn't' disclose its own donors.
Just 28.3 percent of Perriello's contributions for the period came from donors with a Virginia address, according to VPAP. Roughly 87.8 percent of Northam's money came from Virginia donors.
Gillespie's top donors for the period were Milton Peterson and Jon Peterson, a father-son Northern Virginia development duo who gave $50,000 each. Gillespie too benefited from out-of-state money, receiving $25,000 from St. Louis-based Emerson Electric Co. run by Republican donor David Farr, and $10,000 from Koch Industries, the Kansas-based conglomerate led by conservative megadonors Charles and David Koch. Henrico County Republican Del. Jimmie Massie, who announced in March that he won't seek re-election, transferred $25,000 from his now-unnecessary campaign account to Gillespie.
The bulk of Stewart's fundraising came in the form of $90,000 transferred from the re-election campaign account for his county-level office. Stewart's embrace of Confederate statues and symbols earned him a $250 contribution from Ben Jones, an actor who played Cooter on the TV show “The Dukes of Hazzard" who went on to serve in the U.S. House of Representatives from Georgia from 1989 to 1993 and become a spokesman for the Sons of Confederate Veterans. In Virginia, Jones, a Democrat, unsuccessfully challenged Rep. Eric Cantor, R-7th, in 2002.
Wagner, who has emphasized rebuilding the state's transportation infrastructure, received $15,000 from the Virginia Transportation Construction Alliance PAC.
In the primary contests for lieutenant governor, Democrat Justin Fairfax and Republican state Sen. Jill Vogel led their respective fields in fundraising.
Fairfax, a former federal prosecutor, raised a little more than $375,000. Susan Platt, a Democratic activist and ex-aide to then-U.S. Sen. Joe Biden, raised roughly $100,000. Former federal prosecutor Gene Rossi raised almost $49,000. Fairfax's top donor for the period was Rose McElrath-Slade, a McLean-based consulting executive who gave $50,000.
Fundraising in the GOP lieutenant governor's race was more competitive, with Vogel, of Fauquier County, taking in almost $450,000 compared with $312,000 for state Sen. Bryce Reeves of Spotsylvania County and $104,000 for Del. Glenn Davis of Virginia Beach.
Vogel's father, oilman and entrepreneur Bill Holtzman, contributed $150,000 to her campaign.
Reeves transferred $40,000 from his Senate campaign account and received $25,000 from GOPAC Election Fund, the finance arm of a national conservative leadership organization. Reeves is listed as a member of GOPAC's Legislative Leaders Advisory Board.
There's been little drama so far in the race for attorney general, but incumbent Democrat Mark R. Herring is off to a big fundraising lead over Republican challenger John Adams, a Chesterfield County native and attorney at powerhouse law firm McGuireWoods.
Herring reported raising $1.7 million in the latest period, including a $760,000 from his One Commonwealth PAC and $500,000 from the Democratic Attorney Generals Association. He finished the period with a little more than $2 million on hand.
Adams raised $186,000 for the period, ending with almost $610,000 on hand. Adams also received a $10,000 contribution from Koch Industries.
Herring and Adams are already the nominees of their respective parties.