Scandals Shake Up Political Fundraising and Spending

May 8, 2019

Republicans are outpacing Democrats in the race for campaign cash this year.

Campaign finance documents show Republicans are moving money around the state, taking tens of thousands of dollars from incumbents in safe seats and transferring the campaign cash to incumbents in more contested districts — and even some seats they’re hoping to win back.

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Stephen Farnsworth, a political analyst at the University of Mary Washington, says the last election cycle created a sense of urgency. “The elections of 2017 really has given Republicans a scare. The result is that Republicans are going into 2019 very concerned that they might lose their majorities in the House and the Senate," Farnsworth says. "And they’re raising money in order to protect those slim majorities.”

On the Democratic side, though, it’s crickets. House Minority Leader Eileen Filler Corn’s political action committee spent all of $10 this year — a credit card fee for ActBlue Virginia.

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Political analyst Quentin Kidd at Christopher Newport University says Democrats are hobbled by scandal. “The governor would be leading the fundraising, the lieutenant governor would be heavily involved, the AG would be involved," Kidd says. "Conversely, the moment that scandal broke Republican leaders saw an opportunity.”

Democrats are hoping former Governor Terry McAuliffe can save the day. Now that he’s taken a pass on a run for president, they’re hoping he can return to Virginia and act as a cheerleader-in-chief, hitting the fundraising circuit and raising money for Democrats in tight races.

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