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Virginia Democrats see surge in campaign fundraising

By ALAN SUDERMANSeptember 17, 2019

RICHMOND, Va. (AP) — Virginia Democrats are outraising Republicans in the lead up to a closely watched legislative election, according to newly filed campaign finance reports for July and August.

New campaign finance reports show House Democratic candidates leapfrogged Republicans to gain a $1 million cash on hand advantage after House Republicans had a slight cash advantage at the end of June, according to an analysis by the nonpartisan Virginia Public Access Project.

Republicans still hold a small cash advantage in the Senate, but far less than they did at the same point the last Senate election cycle four years ago.

“Republicans are getting out-raised and outworked,” said Democratic Party of Virginia spokesman Jake Rubenstein.

Republicans said they have a long record of winning key races where they’ve been outspent, like in 2015 when former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s gun-control group spent millions in an unsuccessful bid to help Democrats take control of the state Senate.

“Our candidates and our message prevail in spite of that,” said Jeff Ryer, a spokesman for the Republican Senate Caucus.

The latest reports give only a partial view of each party’s fundraising efforts. State parties and political action committees won’t disclose their latest totals until next month.

Virginia’s legislative elections are widely viewed as a potential bellwether for the 2020 presidential contest. Once a key swing state, Virginia Democrats have enjoyed recent electoral success thanks in part to suburban voters unhappy with President Donald Trump fleeing the GOP.

Just four states are having statehouse elections this year and Virginia is the only one where Democrats have a chance of flipping control of the legislature. Republicans currently have slim majorities in both the state House and the state Senate.

The new reports show candidates in both parties are receiving huge donations from special interest groups and wealthy out-of-state megadonors.

GOP Del. Nick Freitas, who is running a write-in campaign after failing to submit campaign paperwork on time, received a $500,000 donation from conservative Illinois billionaire Richard Uihlein. Liberal billionaire activist and 2020 presidential hopeful Tom Steyer gave big checks to several Democratic candidates in key races.

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