Analysts: Accepting PAC Money from the Governor Could Have Mixed Results

Jun 7, 2019

In this Saturday, Feb. 2, 2019 file photo, demonstrators hold signs and chant outside the Governors Mansion at the Capitol in Richmond, Va., calling for the resignation of Gov. Ralph Northam.
Credit AP Photo / Steve Helber

Under normal circumstances, candidates would welcome money from the governor to help finance their campaigns. But this year, it’s a little different.

Governor Ralph Northam is still facing calls for his resignation. But that’s not keeping him off the campaign trail. Campaign finance records show the governor’s political action committee is helping two incumbent members of the General Assembly beat back primary opposition: Senator Barbara Favola of Arlington and Senator Rosalyn Dance of Petersburg.

Stephen Farnsworth at the University of Mary Washington says any candidate taking money from the governor is taking a risk.

“Every candidate who takes money from the governor has had to do so after some pretty careful thought about whether it's a net positive or a net negative,” he explains.

Republican strategist Dan Scandling says any Democrat who called for the governor to resign and then took money from his PAC is going to face questions.

“How can you call for the governor’s resignation and then two months later take a PAC check from him? You just can’t do that,” says Scandling.

Ah, but they did. Campaign finance records posted to the Virginia Public Access Project show 19 candidates have taken money from the governor’s PAC. Two are incumbent Democrats who are facing primary challengers this month. The rest are Democrats who are already stockpiling a war chest to run against Republicans this fall.

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