- Associated Press - Friday, September 16, 2011

RICHMOND — Top state Senate Democrats have piled up big campaign cash reserves for the fierce final sprint to November’s legislative election which will determine whether Republicans take total control of policymaking in Virginia.

And they’ll need every cent of it to hold off a go-for-broke Republican effort aided by Gov. Bob McDonnell, who has about $3 million to draw from.

Campaign finance statements filed by Thursday’s State Board of Elections deadline show the six campaign committees with the most cash on hand as of Aug. 31 are all controlled by Democrats.

Together, those six account for $2.2 million, and Majority Leader Richard L. Saslaw of Fairfax has one-third of it, according to records filed by 259 Senate and House of Delegates candidates collected and posted online by the Virginia Public Access Project, a nonpartisan, nonprofit tracker of money in Virginia politics.


A two-seat net gain gives the GOP a working Senate majority by leaving Democrats and Republicans with 20 seats each in the 40-member chamber and the tie-breaking vote belonging to Republican Lt. Gov. Bill Bolling.

A gain of three seats gives the GOP its first outright majority since 2007 and the right to dominate the Senate’s committees and the decisions of which bills advance to the floor or die before they get there.

With the House comfortably under GOP control, a Republican Senate takeover would give unobstructed control of the General Assembly and the governor’s office for the first time since 2001.

Sen. R. Edward Houck, Spottsylvania Democrat, had the second-largest reserve stowed away for his battle with Republican Bryce Reeves in the 17th District, a fast-growing region that takes in the edge of the D.C. exurban sprawl. Mr. Reeves had nearly $131,000 on hand.

Behind Mr. Houck, Sen. Ralph S. Northam, Norfolk Democrat, had about $286,000 in the bank to try to fend off a challenge from Republican Ben Loyola Jr. in the 6th District, which includes Virginia’s Eastern Shore. Mr. Loyola reported only $71,000 on hand.

In far southwestern Virginia, Sen. Phillip P. Puckett of Russell County reported nearly $240,000 on hand to defend his 38th District seat from Republican challenger Adam Light.

Among House candidates, Delegate Ward L. Armstrong, leader of the House’s Democratic minority, had nearly twice the cash on hand as his nearest rival. Mr. Armstrong reported $485,266, well ahead of Delegate Barbara J. Comstock, who was No. 2 at $261,203. After redistricting stripped Mr. Armstrong of the 10th District seat in Henry County that he had represented for 20 years, he was forced to challenge Republican Delegate Charles D. Poindexter in Mr. Poindexter’s 9th District.