2016 fundraising numbers are in for our 2017 candidates for statewide office, and the numbers bring no huge surprises.
A summary of the numbers is below, after a quick analysis of the state of play.
Ed Gillespie leads by a long shot among the Republican pack, outpacing everyone by a mile and ending the year with nearly 5 times the cash on hand as his nearest rival, Corey Stewart. Stewart is raising cash at a healthy clip, but got a big boost from $378,000 in transfers from his candidate committee for re-election as Chairman of the Prince William County Board of Supervisors. Sen. Frank Wagner (R-Virginia Beach) benefited from the transfer of $205,000 from his Virginia Senate account.
While both Stewart and posted healthy numbers, they’re perhaps not enough to compete vigorously with Gillespie using a conventional campaign strategy (the television ad war). For his part, Stewart is doubtless relying on a Trumpian strategy of earning free media coverage throughout the primary as a means of doing more with less. Look for lots of headline grabbing in the months to come.
Denver Riggleman is a latecomer to the race, so his modest totals may not yet be indicative of his ability to compete going forward, but he’s definitely got a lot of ground to make up.
In the Attorney General race, as expected, Richmond attorney John Adams is touting major numbers for a down ticket race. He’s pulled in a whopping total of $701,804 since he started raising money early last year, far outstripping the fundraising of previous Attorney General nominees at this point in the cycle, though he ended the year with just $277,358 cash on hand…clearly Collette and Shores are being paid too much. (Just kidding, guys).
It is unclear how Virginia Beach attorney Chuck Smith (a good candidate with a great personal story, by the way) expects to compete at all with his numbers, particularly when more than half of his modest funds come from loans he made to his campaign. Adams is the prohibitive favorite here, which should be encouraging if for no other reason than his apparent ability to make a net financial contribution to the GOP ticket.
As usual, the real interesting story comes from the Lieutenant Governor’s race. Sen. Jill Vogel (R-Fauquier), as expected, posted numbers giving her a sizable lead over her rivals. She got a very long head start, which she’s diligently built over the last six months. Her totals close to $1 million are absolutely astounding for a Lieutenant Governor race, but so is the total garnered by Sen. Bryce Reeves (R-Spotsylvania), whose campaign account together with his Senate account has cash on hand of about $530,000—almost parity with Vogel’s cash on hand of $587,000.
Clearly, Reeves will be keen to win using funds from his LG account first, rather than drain his Senate account. He’s not on the Senate ballot again for another two years, but it takes a lot of time for a Senator to build up that kind of cash. If you assume he’s only using funds raised specifically for his LG race, then Vogel has roughly double the cash on hand that he does. But as the race heats up, look for Reeves to dip into the reserve funds, at least a little bit, to keep up with Vogel’s record numbers.
Del. Glenn Davis (R-Virginia Beach) has been left pretty far behind here. He has loaned his campaign $119,950, and between both his House account and his LG account he has a total of only about $38,000 cash on hand.
Detailed numbers can be found on VPAP. We’ve provided a practical summary below.
Please note, the numbers reported below capture existing cash on hand at the beginning of the reporting period, plus any funds raised during the reporting period, minus what was spent. Importantly, they also include funds in state accounts controlled by the candidates, as under Virginia law these are able to be transferred to any other state race. In order to avoid double counting, the numbers below are net of transfers between a candidate’s committees (i.e., the “Raised in Last Period” column doesn’t include funds received from another of the candidate’s own accounts).
|Governor||Beginning||Raised In Last Period*||Ending|
|Lieutenant Governor||Beginning||Raised in Last Period*||Ending|
|Attorney General||Beginning||Raised in Last Period||Ending|
* Totals raised are net of transfers from associated committees. Totals raised for Glenn Davis are net of $119,950 in personal loans from him to his campaign. Totals raised for Chuck Smith are net of his loans to his campaign of $3,500.
** PAC reporting periods are 10/1-12/31, while candidate committees are 7/1-12/31