Voters from across Virginia will head to the polls next week in high-stakes races for the state Senate.
Four candidates for the Virginia state Senate have raised more than a million dollars this campaign cycle. From the Richmond suburbs to Northern Virginia, big money campaign finance reports are an indication of how high the stakes are for Republicans who want to preserve their majority and for Democrats who want to seize power.
Quentin Kidd at Christopher Newport University says it wasn’t all that long ago that a million dollar campaign-finance report would have turned heads.
“I can remember a time literally not two or three or four election cycles ago where the first Senate candidate raised a million dollars and spent a million dollars," says Kidd. "And it was phenomenal and big news.”
Republican incumbent Senator Glen Sturtevant raised the most money, an indication that Republicans are on the defensive. The next highest fundraisers are two Democrats, one trying to unseat Sturtevant and the other trying to flip a red seat blue in an open district in Northern Virginia.
Stephen Farnsworth at the University of Mary Washington says the money is an indication of what’s at stake.
“These narrow Republican majorities have convinced both parties that it’s time to pull out all the stops and raise every dollar you possibly can to compete because this could be a pivotal moment in Virginia," says Farnsworth.
Democrats only need to flip two seats to take the majority in the state Senate. That means both sides will be narrowly focused on a handful of hotly contested senate seats in the Richmond suburbs and in Northern Virginia that could determine the balance of power next year.