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Financial Reports Show What Races Are a Priority for Republicans and Democrats This Fall

NPR

All 140 seats in the General Assembly are up for grabs this November. Campaign finance reports released this week show what races Republicans and Democrats are prioritizing.

Campaign finance numbers posted to the Virginia Public Access Project show a very different story for House and Senate races. On the House side, most of the big money is going to Republicans trying to win back seats they lost — or almost lost — in the last cycle.

Democratic strategist Ben Tribbett says the money shows Republicans are feeling good about keeping the House.

“The Democrats have a much better chance this November of taking over the state Senate than the state House of Delegates," he says.

"And so you’re seeing Republican candidates have a lot of success in fundraising for the House because the conventional wisdom is that they’ll continue to hold a majority.”

On the Senate side, the numbers tell a different story. Most of the big money is aimed at primary elections — fighting off challengers for incumbents or beating back opposition to open seats.

Republican strategist Dan Scandling says it’s telling the top fundraiser is Democratic Minority Leader Dick Saslaw, who has two primary challengers this year.

“That’s a case of the young guard coming after the old guard, and Saslaw knows he can’t take anything for granted," says Scandling.

"He saw what happened to Joe Crowley last year in Congress and he doesn’t want to see that happen to him here in Northern Virginia.”

Virginia is one of a handful of states that has odd-year elections. That means other states will be watching the elections here as a bellwether for what might happen in the 2020 election cycle.

This report, provided by Virginia Public Radio, was made possible with support from the Virginia Education Association.

Michael Pope is an author and journalist who lives in Old Town Alexandria.
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