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Virginia campaign money flows after session and far ahead of statewide elections

July 20,2016 05:14

None of these people, with the very small exception of candidates in special elections, will appear on a ballot this year. Politics never stops, University of Mary Washington political scientist Stephen Farnsworth said, and smart donors write checks ...

RICHMOND – Money has no off-season in Virginia politics.Statewide candidates raised more than $3.5 million for the first half of 2016, according to compilations by the Virginia Public Access Project, which tracks political fundraising. Legislators — despite a General Assembly session fundraising ban from Jan. 13 to March 11 — raised another $3.9 million.
None of these people, with the very small exception of candidates in special elections, will appear on a ballot this year. Politics never stops, University of Mary Washington political scientist Stephen Farnsworth said, and smart donors write checks "pretty much year-round.""There's an old saying that old friends are the best," Farnsworth said. "And that is more true of campaign finance than anything else in politics."

"When you have money in the bank you don't have to worry," he said. "And you will be very thankful to the people who helped you early on."The numbers below are based on campaign finance documents that were due to the state last Friday and generally cover fundraising from Jan. 1 through June 30. They come from VPAP, or from committee filings available from the State Board of Elections.Norment and SaslawMoney rolled in during the early days of January for state legislators, with four- and five-figure checks from major lobbying groups hitting campaign accounts shortly before the annual General Assembly session began.
Legislators are forbidden from raising money during the session, which ran this year from Jan. 13 through March 11.Verizon Communications' political action committee, for example, gave Senate Majority Leader Thomas K. "Tommy" Norment $10,000 on Jan. 8. The PAC gave Norment's counterpart, Senate Minority Leader Richard Saslaw, $10,000 four days later.Norment was the second biggest fundraiser over the last six months, according to VPAP, bringing in nearly $180,000. Saslaw came in first.Senate seats aren't up for re-election until 2019. House seats are up next year.As with most General Assembly leadership, the majority of Norment's money came from companies, special interest groups, lobbyists and others with business before the state.John O. "Dubby" Wynne, who led a bipartisan push for a new economic development incentive program this year called GO Virginia, gave Norment $10,000 in April. So did Dominion Virginia Power's PAC.Community Loans of America, a payday loan company, gave Norment $7,500 in May, as did the Virginia Bankers Association.Other local legislatorsMost local legislators raised far less than the $27,959 average for legislators in the first half of 2016, though Del. David Yancey, R-Newport News, brought in nearly $43,000.Yancey represents one of the few competitive House districts in the state, and his biggest donor this period was House Majority Leader Kirk Cox, who kicked in $5,000.Del. Keith Hodges, R-Urbanna, reported the smallest sum raised in the first half of the year, just $600. But he had $9,833 on hand at the end of June thanks to previous years' fundraising.Del. Monty Mason, D-Williamsburg, received $19,523 in his House campaign fund, but also raised $70,750 for his race to succeed the late state Sen. John Miller, D-Newport News. That special election will be held this November.Mason's Republican opponent, Thomas Holston, raised $135. Constitution Party candidate John Bloom raised $100.Mason closed out his House fund after making a contribution to the House Democratic caucus and paying staff, as well as repaying himself some $13,000 in loans he had made to his own campaign. His money flows now through the Senate campaign.Appropriations powerHouse Appropriations Committee Chairman Chris Jones, R-Suffolk, raised about $92,000 over the last six months.His position makes him one of the most powerful people in state government and, as they do for Norment, groups regulated by the state open their checkbooks.Dominion, long Virginia's most generous corporate campaign donor, gave Jones $6,500 from April to June. Transurban, a private tolling company, gave $1,500 in May.Jones steered compromise legislation this past session that capped maximum tolling fines motorists can face, which had been the subject of lawsuits. The bill also will help tolling companies collect fines owed by out-of-state drivers.Huntington Ingalls Industries, parent company of Newport News Shipbuilding, gave $1,500 to Jones' campaign in April. The company donates to a wide range of legislators on both sides of the political aisle.Jones carried legislation that will create a $46 million grant program contingent on the shipyard investing some $750 million, and creating at least 1,000 jobs, on construction of a new submarine line. The bill passed unanimously.Governor's raceLt. Gov. Ralph Northam pulled in nearly $931,000 over the last six months and had $1.37 million in his gubernatorial campaign account as of June 30.He's the only Democrat announced in the 2017 governor's race, and he's gotten an early start. Gov. Terry McAuliffe didn't even open his campaign account for the 2013 race until the second half of 2012.On the Republican side, Ed Gillespie raised $585,630 during the first six months of this year. A long-time professional fundraiser who lost a close U.S. Senate race in 2014, Gillespie's war chest totals $1.055 million. It's held by his political action committee, Let's Grow, Virginia!Gillespie's two opponents lag in the money game, and Gillespie has been trying to show himself as his party's obvious front-runner.U.S. Rep. Rob Wittman, R-Westmoreland, raised $56,525 for his gubernatorial bid through his Virginia First Fund. He's seeking re-election to Congress this November, though, before turning his full attention to the governor's race next year.Prince William County Board of Supervisors Chairman Corey Stewart, who is also presidential candidate Donald Trump's Virginia campaign chairman, hasn't started raising money for this race. He has nearly $314,000 in his county supervisor's campaign account, though.Attorney general raceJohn Adams, an attorney at one of Virginia's best known firms, showed his campaign will have deep pockets, raising nearly $432,000 in six months, a year and a half before the election.The biggest money came from Bruce and Floyd Gottwald, part of a family that owns a chemical manufacturing company in Richmond. They gave $75,000. The rest of Adams' donor list is dotted by partners at his law and lobbying firm, McGuireWoods.
Terrence Bagley, former chairman of the firm's litigation department, gave $10,000. So did Richard Cullen, a company chairman and a senior litigation partner.Among other things, Cullen represented Jonnie Williams, the Virginia businessman whose gifts led to former Gov. Bob McDonnell's indictment, during the governor's trial in 2014. Adams, a former assistant U.S. attorney who worked in President George W. Bush's White House, now chairs McGuireWoods' government investigations and white collar litigation department.
Adams didn't just raise money, though, he spent it, making big front-end investments with media and consulting firms. He spent more than $170,000 and ended June with $260,760 on hand.Del. Rob Bell, who was forbidden from fundraising during the General Assembly session, brought in about $181,000 for his 2017 attorney general's bid. The biggest chunk — $34,000 — was transferred from Bell's House campaign account. He sat on most of his money, spending about $58,000.Since this is Bell's second run for attorney general, his campaign account has existed a while now, and was flush before the year even began. He started with nearly $635,000 on hand.Chuck Smith, a Virginia Beach attorney also seeking the GOP nomination for this position, hasn't started his fundraising operation yet.Mark Herring, the Democrat and incumbent seeking re-election and so far unopposed, has about $99,000 on hand.Lieutenant governorState Sen. Jill Vogel made a splash last week, with her campaign for lieutenant governor calling the $560,000 brought in "a record high."It qualified that record, though, saying it only compared itself to candidates in the 2005 and 2013 lieutenant governor's races. VPAP's database shows that, in other election cycles, lieutenant governor candidates raised more over the same comparable period — the first six months of the year before an election.Coleman Andrews did it in 1996, for example, and that's without accounting for inflation. Bill Bolling raised $166,000 more in the first half of 2008.Vogel's campaign noted Bolling was an incumbent, though.Also worth noting: Vogel's total included $100,000 from her father, oil and gas man Bill Holtzman, and $85,000 transferred from her Senate campaign account.Vogel is seeking the Republican nomination in this race, along with state Sen. Bryce Reeves and Del. Glenn Davis. Reeves is raising money through his PAC — Revitalize Virginia — as well as his Senate campaign. Between the two of them, Reeves' campaign said it brought in about $368,000 over the last six months.There's something of a double count in the campaign's figure, though. The biggest donation to Revitalize Virginia this year was a $100,000 transfer from Reeves' Senate campaign.All in all, the senator had more than $490,000 on hand at the end of June.Davis, a Virginia Beach Republican who has been traveling the state in a campaign RV, brought in about $73,500 through his lieutenant governor's campaign and another $12,400 through his delegate campaign.He was his own biggest donor for the period by far, putting more than $69,000 of his own money into the accounts.Though more candidates are expected, only one Democrat has announced so far in the lieutenant governor's race. That's Justin Fairfax, who ran a close primary in the 2013 attorney general's race.Fairfax raised about $194,000 over the last six months and ended the period with about $126,000 on hand.Fain can be reached by phone at 757-525-1759. Daily Press reporter Dave Ress contributed to this report.

Virginia campaign finance

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