Former Gov. Terry McAuliffe, who is running for a second term, raised $4.2 million in the first quarter of 2021, more than all of his Democratic rivals combined — displaying the kind of influence that makes him the candidate to beat in the Democratic primary.
In the GOP contest — where money has less impact because of the small number of convention delegates candidates have to target — former private equity CEO Glenn Youngkin and entrepreneur Pete Snyder pulled far ahead of their rivals, thanks in large part to money they lent themselves from their personal wealth, $5 million each.
That’s according to campaign finance disclosures published Friday, three weeks before the GOP convention May 8 and two months before the Democratic primary on June 8, when party-loyal voters will decide their nominees for governor, lieutenant governor and attorney general.
Only one other candidate for governor broke the $1 million mark: Jennifer Carroll Foy, who benefited from big-ticket contributions out of Charlottesville from megadonors Michael Bills and Sonja Smith, and Bills’ advocacy group Clean Virginia.
Among Democrats running for lieutenant governor, Del. Sam Rasoul of Roanoke reported the highest fundraising haul of the quarter at $633,000. The campaign had nearly $1 million of spending cash as of March 31, far more than any other candidate for the office.
Among GOP candidates for lieutenant governor, former Del. Tim Hugo, R-Fairfax, raised the most money in the quarter, at $198,374, and had the most cash on hand, at nearly $104,000.
In the Democratic campaign for attorney general, Del. Jay Jones of Norfolk is proving a formidable fundraiser is the race to knock off incumbent Mark Herring, who is seeking a third term. Jones raised $498,000 in the period and had just over $1 million in cash to spend on the race as of March 31. Herring raised $646,000 and finished with $1.39 million in cash on hand.
The GOP contest for attorney general isn’t drawing nearly as much money. Del. Jason Miyares of Virginia Beach led with $236,000 in contributions and had $341,000 in cash on hand.
McAuliffe’s $4.2 million in contributions from January through April, combined with money raised last year, left him with $8.5 million in cash on hand as of March 31. McAuliffe has more money in his war chest than all of the other candidates combined.
McAuliffe’s biggest contribution, $250,000, came from the Laborers International Union of North America, or LIUNA, a union that represents construction and public sector workers. McAuliffe also received $100,000 from James Bernhard, the former CEO of the Shaw Group, a company that makes pipes for crude oil refineries and the natural gas industry.
Carroll Foy raised the most money after McAuliffe, at $1.8 million, and finished the quarter with a balance of $2.3 million. Her contributions included $500,000 from the Clean Virginia Fund run by Bills and an additional $250,000 from Smith, Bills’ wife.
Carroll Foy, who announced in December that she was resigning her House seat in order to focus on her bid for governor, has heavily criticized the state’s campaign finance laws and proposed capping large contributions.
In a statement, her campaign said the state “can’t fix our broken campaign finance system until we elect anti-corruption champions like Jennifer Carroll Foy,” and praised the work of Clean Virginia promoting environmental protections.
McClellan reported raising $635,400, less than the $672,300 her campaign spent in the first quarter. She finished the quarter with $442,000 in cash.
Del. Lee Carter, D-Manassas, reported raising $139,000 in his bid for governor. He finished the quarter with just under $89,000 in cash on hand.
Lt. Gov Justin Fairfax reportedly raised just under $100,000 — $75,000 of which came from in-kind contributions, or services to the campaign. He had $20,700 in cash on hand.
Recent polling shows McAuliffe holds a wide lead over the rest of the Democratic field. An April 13 poll of likely primary voters from Public Policy Polling, a Democratic pollster based in North Carolina, showed 42% plan to support McAuliffe, while support for the other candidates lingered in the single digits. Carroll Foy and McClellan were tied at 8%, with Fairfax at 7%, and Carter at 4%. The poll shows 29% of voters remain undecided.
The pollster interviewed 526 likely Democratic primary voters on April 12th and 13th. The survey’s margin of error was plus or minus 4.3 percentage points.
Virginia Republicans will choose their nominee in a “disassembled convention,” which will feature voting sites in each of the 11 congressional districts. The voters are convention delegates elected by local party units.
That dynamic dilutes the power of money in the nominating process, but whoever emerges as the nominee will need a competitive war chest in a state where no Republican has won statewide office since 2009.
Youngkin and Snyder, wielding their ability to self-fund, each lent their campaigns $5 million. Each campaign spent just over $4 million in the first quarter of the year — more than any Democratic candidate spent in that time — largely on advertising.
Loans of $5.5 million aside, Youngkin, former CEO of The Carlyle Group, reported raising the most money among the Republican candidates in contributions at $2 million. His campaign has $3.3 million in cash.
Snyder, CEO of Disruptor Capital, an angel investment firm, followed closely, raising $1.6 million in contributions on top of the $5.2 million he lent himself. Snyder’s campaign has $2.6 million in cash. Snyder’s largest contribution came from Mark Kimsey, the CEO of CapFi Partners LCC, a brokerage firm.
Cox, the former House speaker and once powerful GOP fundraiser, raised $694,000 for his campaign in the first quarter. His campaign has $310,000 in cash. Unlike Youngkin and Snyder, Cox’s professional past is in the public sector, as a teacher.
Sen. Amanda Chase, R-Chesterfield, who says her supporters call her “Trump in heels” and who is trying to attract Trump’s base, raised $113,500 during the first quarter, and has $195,973 on hand. Chase, like Cox, was barred from fundraising during the General Assembly session.
Later entrants in the GOP race reported small hauls. Former Trump Pentagon official Sergio De La Peña reported $263,400 in contributions, and has $42,800 in cash on hand. European policy expert Peter Doran reported raising $16,400. The candidate has $2,000 in the bank. Former Roanoke Sheriff Octavia Johnson reported raising $800.