Incumbents in some Key Races Trail in Fundraising

May 17, 2019

Campaign-finance numbers show several members of the General Assembly need to play catch up now that the session has ended.

Eight incumbent members of the House of Delegates have challengers who have raised more money than they have during the first quarter of this year — three Democrats and five Republicans.

Quentin Kidd, a political analyst at Christopher Newport University, says that’s usually a problem for incumbents. “What it means is that incumbent has either become complacent or hasn’t had a challenger in such a long time they don’t really have a fundraising operation in place or it says that a lot of people think that incumbent is in trouble and they’re not willing to invest in an incumbent they think might lose.”

Members of the General Assembly were forbidden from raising money during the seven weeks of session. But that was only about half of the time covered by the quarterly disclosure documents.

Stephen Farnsworth at the University of Mary Washington says it’s telling these members haven’t been able to catchup yet. “While incumbents can’t raise money during the session, the reality is that once the session is over the money can start rolling in, and it usually rolls in at a pretty good clip if there is a sense that this is a contestable race.”

The five Republican members and three Democratic members are all in seats that are the most targeted races in Virginia — seats Republicans lost last time and think they’ve got a shot at winning back as well as seats Democrats narrowly lost last time and want to another shot at this year.

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