- Associated Press - Tuesday, June 6, 2017

RICHMOND, Va. (AP) - Lt. Gov. Ralph Northam has a sizable cash advantage over rival Tom Perriello a week ahead of the Democratic primary election in Virginia’s closely watched race for governor.

New campaign finance reports filed Monday show Northam with $600,000 more in cash than Perriello at the beginning of this month. Both reported raising about $2 million in April and May, but Northam’s advantage comes from having been in the race far longer than Perriello.

Overall, Northam said he has raised $7.5 million through his campaign account and a separate political action committee, and he reported $1.3 million in cash at the end of May.

Perriello, a former congressman who surprised most state Democrats when he jumped into the race in January, has raised more than $4 million and reported $734,000 left in cash.

The contest between Northam and Perriello is being watched nationally as a possible signal for how Democrats respond to the early days of President Donald Trump. Swing state Virginia is only one of two states electing governors this year.

Northam is a more traditional candidate who stresses his pragmatic approach and ability to work with state Republicans. Perriello is running a more liberal campaign, promising to raise taxes on the wealthy to pay for social programs to help the poor and middle class.

Those differences are highlighted in campaign reports. Northam, who is backed by the state party establishment, received 88 percent of all donations $100 or more from Virginia sources in April and May, according to the Virginia Public Access Project. Many of his donors are regular givers in Virginia politics, including tech executive Tom DePasquale, personal injury law firm Allen, Allen, Allen & Allen, and corporations like Altria and Dominion Energy.

Perriello, who has drawn far more national attention and is backed by prominent out-of-state Democrats including U.S. Sens. Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren, is heavily reliant on out-of-state super donors. Billionaire investors George Soros and Donald Sussman have given $500,000 and $300,000, respectively.

Northam reported spending $3.8 million in April and May, compared to Perriello’s $2.8 million. As of mid-May, Northam has outspent Perriello by 2 to 1 on TV air time.

Republican frontrunner Ed Gillespie has more than a $2 million cash advantage over his GOP challengers, Corey Stewart and state Sen. Frank Wagner. Gillespie, a former Republican National Committee chairman, raised $1.1 million in April and May.

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