© 2024
Virginia's Public Radio
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

With primaries over, what role will big donors play in General Assembly races?

Mallory Noe-Payne
Radio IQ

A few years ago, Dominion Energy donated to the campaigns of just about every member of the General Assembly. Then in 2018, a hedge fund millionaire formed a political action committee called Clean Virginia to be a counterbalance. Now the two sides are battling for dominance, and each side can claim some victories in last week's primary elections.

Stephen Farnsworth at the University of Mary Washington says this shows a shifting political landscape. "I think it's clear that Dominion's influence will be reduced as other players with big checkbooks get into this conversation about Virginia's energy future. It's clear that Dominion has pivoted to take advantage of the changing political dynamics of Virginia," Farnsworth says. "The question is are they moving far enough fast enough."

Dan Weiner at the Brennan Center says the fight between Dominion Energy and Clean Virginia illustrates the power of money in politics. "This is the age we live in right now where regardless of your ideological position, you're likely to often find yourself somewhat drown out by money coming from the wealthiest interests in our society."

And those contributions may just be starting. Dominion and Clean Virginia are heading into a very expensive fall campaign cycle where candidates are going to need money for direct mail and TV ads.

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.