The Northern Virginia Daily's Political Depot

A service for our readers outside the Northern Shenandoah Valley... a sampling of The Daily's political coverage, plus unofficial, 'reporter's notebook' stuff. And occasional dry humor...

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Location: Strasburg, Virginia

Tuesday, July 19, 2005

Party candidates for governor have seven-digit war chests; B1

June campaign finance reports show most spending more than taking in

By Garren Shipley
(Daily Staff Writer)
It pays to be unopposed. Or to have a weak primary opponent. That’s the overriding theme in the June iteration of Virginia’s campaign finance reports.

Candidates on the Nov. 8 ballot were required to file the documents with the State Board of Elections by the close of business Friday.

It was a very good month for former Attorney General Jerry Kilgore, the Republican nominee for governor. The candidate had his best fundraising month during this election cycle, raising $2.1 million, more than double the $1.03 million generated by his Democratic opponent, Lt. Gov. Tim Kaine.

The two men ended the month with seven-digit war chests — $5.09 million for Kaine, $4.6 million for Kilgore. Factor out an early $1.5 million gift from the Democratic National Committee, and Kilgore has actually surpassed Kaine for the first time.

Kilgore’s donations also included another $100,000 from Joseph Gregory, the brother of the founder of Bristol, Tenn.-based King Pharmaceuticals. The Democratic ticket has tried to make significant political hay with Kilgore’s biggest donor, claiming the former AG let the company overcharge the state’s Medicaid program in exchange for donations.

Kilgore’s camp dismisses that charge as uninformed and incorrect, saying that the state did investigate King after the company reported the overcharge voluntarily.

Kilgore was also the only candidate to take in more money than he spent during the reporting period. The Scott County native spent just $726,167, even though he faced a June 14 primary challenge from Warrenton Mayor George Fitch. Kaine, who was unopposed, spent $1.14 million.

State Sen. H. Russell Potts Jr., R-Winchester, who will be on the ballot as an independent, also spent more than he took in — $85,310 on some $37,251.

Farther down the ticket, there’s one overriding theme — quiet, sedate primaries are good. No primaries are even better.

Both candidates for lieutenant governor are rebuilding their war chests, but Del. Bill Bolling, R-Mechanicsville, has farther to go than former Rep. Leslie Byrne, a Democrat from Fairfax.

Bolling had some $62,671 left in his war chest at the end of the June reporting period, while Byrne had $126,068.

The Republican’s campaign spent $534,247 during June — almost as much as the Kilgore campaign — in the final days of the fight to win the nomination over Prince William County Board of Supervisors Chairman Sean Connaughton.

Byrne’s four-way fight for the nomination was far more sedate than the nasty, often personal, fight between Bolling and Connaughton. It was also cheaper.

Byrne has raised about $521,000 during this cycle, while Bolling has raised some $1.69 million. But the Republican had to spend virtually all of it to secure the nomination. In fact, of the money the Bolling campaign spent during the reporting period, $466,087 was spent on or before June 14.

But the difference between having to fight for the nomination and being the only candidate for the nomination couldn’t be clearer than the race at the bottom of the ticket.

As of the end of July, Del. Bob McDonnell, R-Virginia Beach, was just about out of ammo in his race for attorney general. McDonnell had just $74,558 remaining.

His opponent, state Sen. Creigh Deeds, has eight times as much, $595,909, in the bank and ready to go. But that’s not a slight toward McDonnell’s fundraising.

During this campaign cycle, the Republican contender has nearly tripled Deeds’ efforts — $2.05 million versus $847,000. But his primary fight with Richmond attorney Steve Baril ate up the vast majority of that.

McDonnell had spent $1.8 million before the June reporting period began.

On the local level, the Republican contender holds a wide lead in the race to succeed Del. Alan Louderback, R-Luray.

Shenandoah County Assistant Commonwealth’s Attorney Todd Gilbert raised $7,465 in June, while Democratic nominee Jim Blubaugh generated $3,514.

Gilbert also has a larger campaign war chest moving into the late summer — $39,312 versus Blubaugh’s $12,118.

The next reporting period for all candidates includes July and August, with reports due to the State Board of Elections by mid-September.