Virginia governor's race gets infusion of national cash

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Local,Virginia,Steve Contorno,Campaign Finance

The national Republican and Democratic parties pumped more money into the Virginia governor's race than the candidates raised themselves over the past two months, campaign finance reports released Monday show.

Democrat Terry McAuliffe, a former national party chairman, took in $3.7 million from April 1 to May 29, buoyed by a $2 million donation from the Democratic Governors Association. Republican Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli raised $2.2 million over that same period, nearly half of which came from the Republican Governors Association.

The Republican Governors Association gave Cuccinelli $1 million in May on top of the $1 million the group gave him earlier this year.

Both national governors associations have already contributed more money in this year's governor's race than they did during the entire 2009 gubernatorial race.

McAuliffe maintains a significant funding advantage over Cuccinelli, who ended the reporting period with less money than he started with. The Democrat now has $5.4 million in his war chest, double the $2.7 million Cuccinelli has.

"Virginians from all walks of life are looking for their next governor to be focused on growing our economy, improving education and reducing transportation gridlock," McAuliffe said. "That is why we are continuing to see so much support from Republicans and Democrats across the state who want their governor to find mainstream solutions to the problems they care about."

McAuliffe earlier Monday won endorsements from Dwight Schar, a former Republican National Committee finance chairman, and former GOP gubernatorial candidate Earle Williams.

In an indication of the national interest the race is generating, Cuccinelli recently benefited from a fundraiser hosted by billionaire businessman David Koch at the New York home of TD Ameritrade founder Joe Ricketts.

Not to be outdone, McAuliffe on Thursday will welcome first lady Michelle Obama at a Tysons Corner fundraiser.

Despite trailing in fundraising, Cuccinelli campaign manager David Rexrode said the campaign has "the resources necessary to successfully share his message of smaller government, better schools and easing the burden on middle-class families throughout the commonwealth."

Both candidates have been spending on positive television ads that introduce themselves to voters. But the battle on the ground has been much more bombastic, and it is taking its toll on the candidates' likability. The most recent Public Policy Polling survey said voters have an unfavorable view of both candidates and Virginians are increasingly undecided heading into the summer.

The largest donation of the reporting period that didn't come from one of the two parties was a $250,000 check that Baltimore Orioles owner Peter Angelos gave McAuliffe.

scontorno@washingtonexaminer.com

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