In Virginia governor’s race, Northam leads Gillespie in cash

October 17, 2017

RICHMOND, Va. (AP) — Democrat Ralph Northam has a hefty cash advantage over Republican Ed Gillespie in the final weeks of Virginia’s closely watched governor’s race.

Campaign finance reports filed late Monday show Northam raised more than $7 million in September and had about $5.7 million in the bank at the end of the month, according to the Virginia Public Access Project.

Gillespie reported raising $4.4 million, with $2.5 million cash on hand for the same period. The former Republican National Committee chairman enjoyed a cash advantage over Northam after the June primaries but has struggled to match the Democrat’s fundraising prowess in recent months.

Virginia is the only competitive governor’s race in the country this year, and some view the contest as an early referendum on President Donald Trump. Democrats are hoping anti-Trump sentiment will allow them to sweep all three statewide races and make serious gains in the Republican-controlled state House. Trump lost Virginia to Hillary Clinton and Republicans in the Old Dominion have embraced the president at varying levels.

In the governor’s race, most polls have shown a tight race with Northam maintaining a consistent lead.

Northam’s big donors included unions and special interest groups like Planned Parenthood and the Virginia League of Conservation Voters, as well as best-selling authors John Grisham and David Baldacci. Northam also reported 6,860 donations under a $100 in September, more than twice the number of small-dollar donations Gillespie received.

“Virginians from across the Commonwealth support Dr. Northam because they know he will bring economic opportunity for all Virginians, no matter who they are or where they live,” said campaign manager Brad Komar.

Gillespie said “it’s clear the left is pouring in” to the state, but said he’s not concerned about the money gap.

“We have the resources we need to get our message out,” he said.

Major donors to Gillespie include several wealthy businessmen, including Houston Texans owner Robert C. McNair, former President George W. Bush and the tobacco giant Altria.

Democrat Justin Fairfax outraised Republican Jill Vogel last month in the lieutenant governor’s race. Fairfax raised more than $600,000 compared to $285,000 for Vogel.

Both Attorney General Mark Herring and his Republican challenger, John Adams, raised about $1.6 million last month. Herring reported having $2.5 million in the bank compared to Adams’ $250,000.

Several Democrats challenging Republican incumbents in state House elections also recorded large September fundraising hauls.

Election Day is Nov. 7.