RICHMOND, Va. — Democratic former Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe has a commanding lead in fundraising as he seeks another term in the governor’s mansion, according to campaign finance reports filed this week.
McAuliffe reported raising $4.2 million in the first quarter of 2021, according to data compiled by the nonpartisan Virginia Public Access Project, which tracks money in politics. He ended the period with $8.5 million cash on hand, more than the rest of his four primary opponents combined.
In the seven-way GOP nomination contest, wealthy businessmen Pete Snyder and Glenn Youngkin easily led the pack in fundraising, having each loaned themselves more than $5 million.
Youngkin, the former co-chief executive of The Carlyle Group, a Washington-based private equity giant, had a slight edge in cash on hand: about $3.3 million to entrepreneur and investor Snyder’s nearly $2.6 million.
Republicans have opted to pick their nominee at an unassembled convention this weekend; Democrats will winnow their field in a primary in June.
Former Del. Jennifer Carroll Foy posted the second-highest fundraising haul on the Democratic side, raising more than $1.8 million and ending the quarter with more than $2.3 million cash on hand.
In an email Friday, her campaign wrote that the latest fundraising numbers show the other Democratic candidates in the race — state Sen. Jennifer McClellan, Del. Lee Carter and Lt. Gov. Justin Fairfax — “do not have the resources to compete in Virginia, which includes one of the nation’s most expensive media markets.”
The McClellan and Carter campaigns pushed back at that characterization. Both candidates were prohibited from fundraising during part of the quarter when the General Assembly was in session.
McClellan, who reported raising about $635,000 during the first quarter of the year, also announced Friday that she had nearly $1.5 million in pledged donations for the second quarter.
“Our campaign is picking up momentum at just the right time,” McClellan campaign manager Rachel Perry said in a statement.
Carter, a self-identified socialist, reported raising nearly $139,000 and ending the quarter with about $89,000 cash on hand. His campaign manager, Josh Stanfield, said the campaign has plenty of money to fund its strategy of targeting voters who supported U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders in last year’s presidential primary and added the campaign doesn’t see the need for expensive TV ads.
Carroll Foy, who’s promising to enact limits on campaign finance contributions in a state that currently has virtually none, has benefited tremendously from the support of one wealthy couple.
The reports show about 40% of her donations came from either the political action committee associated with Clean Virginia, a group started by Charlottesville investor Michael Bills to counter the influence of Dominion Energy, or from Bills’ wife, Sonjia Smith.
Fairfax, whose campaign has been dampened by two allegations of sexual assault that he adamantly denies, posted anemic results. He raised just under $100,000, according to VPAP, and was left with $20,689 cash on hand. A spokeswoman declined further comment.
Behind Youngkin and Snyder among Republicans was former House speaker Kirk Cox, who reported raising about $694,000, spending slightly more than that and ending with $310,314.
In a statement, Cox’s campaign contrasted the longtime state legislator and educator with his wealthy competitors.
“As a 30-year career public school teacher, I know what it’s like to bring home a middle class paycheck,” Cox said. “Julie and I knew we had to make every last dollar count, especially while raising four growing boys. So when I ask hard-working Virginians to donate to my campaign, I don’t do it lightly.”
Amanda Chase, a state senator often at odds with her own Republican party, raised about $113,000 and ended the quarter with about $196,000 cash on hand, according to VPAP’s analysis. Chase objected to GOP party leaders plans to hold a convention instead of a primary and has raised the possibility of a third-party bid if she loses.
Also in the GOP race are: Sergio de la Peña, a retired Army officer, who reported raising about $263,000; former think tank CEO Peter Doran who raised about $16,000; and former Roanoke Sheriff Octavia Johnson, who raised $932.
Princess Blanding, who became a prominent Richmond-area “racial justice” activist after the police killing of her brother and is making a third-party bid, reported raising $12,152, according to VPAP.
Virginia and New Jersey are the only states electing governors this year. Virginia’s is considered the more competitive of the two, and the contest is usually closely watched as a potential bellwether heading into the midterms.
Virginia voters will also decide races for attorney general, lieutenant governor and the House of Delegates, where Democrats will be defending their majority.