- The Washington Times - Sunday, July 17, 2011

Democratic candidates for the Virginia Senate have outpaced their Republican rivals in second-quarter fundraising, with control of the General Assembly’s upper chamber on the line this fall.

Democratic candidates raised roughly $2.5 million, compared with $2.2 million for Republicans, according to the nonpartisan Virginia Public Access Project.

Democrats had $4.2 million cash on hand, while Republicans had $3.6 million, as of Friday, the deadline for reporting the April-to-June fundraising period.

Democrats hold a 22-18 advantage in the Senate - in a state where Republicans control the House 59 to 39 (with two independents), as well as the top three elected offices - the governorship and the offices of the lieutenant governor and the state’s attorney general.

The Virginia Senate Republican caucus raised roughly $350,000 in the second quarter and finished with about $1.1 million cash on hand, while the Democratic caucus raised $230,000 and finished with about $865,000 in the bank.

Senate Majority Leader Richard L. Saslaw, Fairfax Democrat, finished the reporting period with $1 million in the bank, after raising nearly $260,000 this past quarter.

The state GOP will undoubtedly hope to leverage Gov. Bob McDonnell’s own resources. His Opportunity Virginia PAC finished the quarter with nearly $3 million on hand.

“This is going to be an all-out effort, in which McDonnell will certainly use some of the dollars he’s collected,” said longtime Virginia political analyst Bob Holsworth. Republicans “think it’s going to be a tough fight. Prior to 2012, they’re still likely to have an enthusiasm advantage.”

State Sen. Dave Marsden, Fairfax Democrat, who finished the quarter with more than $100,000 on hand, acknowledged Virginia’s top elected officials have a sizable war chest, but said money would not determine everything.

“Obviously, they have the governor,” he said. “That’s really the only difference. I think, clearly behind the scenes it may seem like there’s not a lot going on, but there’s a huge amount of energy on the Democratic side this year.”

Senate Democrats will also get a boost from Virginia Sen. Mark Warner, who is set to headline a July 31 fundraiser in Richmond at the Virginia Center for Architecture.

In other fundraising news, Lt. Gov. Bill Bolling’s Friends of Bill Bolling political action committee took in $541,000 during the first six months of the year, finishing with $676,766 cash on hand. Mr. Bolling’s figures outpaced contributions for Attorney General Kenneth T. Cuccinelli’s two PACs, Liberty Now and Cuccinelli for Attorney General, which raised more than $446,000 during the first six months of 2011, from 2,400 individual donations.