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

Friday, September 16, 2005

Kilgore still leads in poll; A1

Candidates report July-August financial data

By Garren Shipley
Daily Staff Writer

Closer and closer. Higher and higher.

Republican gubernatorial candidate Jerry Kilgore still holds a lead over Democratic nominee Lt. Gov. Tim Kaine, but it’s now within the margin of error, according to a poll released Friday by Rasmussen Research.

Meanwhile, both party-backed candidates continue to rake in millions of dollars in contributions.

Kilgore’s lead, which in Rasmussen surveys was at 6 percent as recently as August, is down to 3 percent. Kilgore nets 44 percent, Kaine 41 percent and 5 percent say they’ll vote for some other candidate.

When the question is asked with independent candidate state Sen. H. Russell Potts Jr., R-Winchester, thrown into the mix, things don’t change much.

Kilgore still holds a 3 point lead, but both candidates lose some ground to Potts, 43 percent to 40 percent, respectively, with Potts polling at 5 percent. Another 2 percent say they’ll vote for some other candidate.

The poll, conducted on Wednesday night, was done a full day after the three candidates debated in two events in McLean, and likely reflects some of the fallout, Rasmussen said.

Observers said Kaine generally performed far better than Kilgore in their second head-to-head contest this year.

While the race may have narrowed since his last survey, both party-backed candidates can take some solace in the poll’s internal results.

Some 46 percent of likely voters said the 2004 budget deal, which raised taxes by $1.6 billion, was good for the state. Those voters break for Kaine by almost a 2-to-1 margin.

Another 38 percent said it was bad for the state. Those voters break for Kilgore by a similar margin.

Rasmussen asked voters about where they saw the two leading gubernatorial hopefuls on the political spectrum, and the results hewed closed to the expected lines.

Democratic Gov. Mark R. Warner, who currently enjoys a 70 percent favorability rating, is perceived by most to be a centrist, with responses in a near-perfect Bell curve — 26 percent say Warner is a liberal, 45 percent say he’s a centrist and 23 percent say he’s a conservative.

Kaine’s numbers skew a bit to the left, with 33 percent saying he’s a liberal, 21 percent saying he’s a conservative. Kilgore’s numbers skew to the right. Some 57 percent of voters say he’s conservative, while 10 percent say he’s a liberal.

Meanwhile, Kilgore has pulled ahead of Kaine on two major money fronts for the first time — cash-on-hand and cash raised during the period.

Financial reports covering July and August were due at the close of business Thursday, and both party candidates reported lots of seven-digit numbers.

Camp Kilgore raked in the most cash during the period, $3.2 million to Kaine’s $2.2 million. Kilgore also has more in the war chest, $6.8 million to $5.7 million.

“This is yet another indication of the growing momentum around our campaign,” Kilgore said in a e-mail to reporters. “From the polls, to the grassroots, to fundraising, everything continues to look positive as we head toward Election Day.”

Kaine has still outraised Kilgore, $12.3 million to $11.9 million, and continues to spend more than his GOP opponent, $6.6 million to $5.1 million in this election cycle.

Kaine campaign manager Mike Henry said the campaign was thankful for Virginians’ financial support.

“Virginians know how much better off our Commonwealth is today than it was four years ago,” he said in an e-mail. “They appreciate the leadership the Warner-Kaine Administration is providing.”

Back in Winchester, “Operation Upset” is back off the financial ropes, but still far behind its two competitors.

At the end of June, Potts’ campaign had just over $135,000 left in the bank.

But the fundraising spigots opened, and the campaign took in more than $518,000 over the past two months on expenditures of $190,000. That leaves a total war chest of some $463,500 with just under two months to go until Election Day.

The lion’s share of that fundraising came from Potts’ most prolific donor, Lloyd Ross of Middleburg, who founded the Dallas-based Tuesday Morning retail chain.

Ross doubled his total donations to the Potts campaign, writing a check for $300,000 to the campaign Aug. 29. Of the $909,163 the campaign has reported in donations so far, Ross has donated $600,000.

Election Day is Nov. 8.