- The Washington Times - Thursday, April 9, 2009

Virginia gubernatorial candidate Terry McAuliffe raised more than five times the amount of his closest competitor for the Democratic nomination, bringing in more than $4 million during the first three months of this year.

“We are thrilled with the grass-roots and fundraising support we have received over the last few months,” McAuliffe campaign manager Mike Henry said. “Terry's decades of experience creating jobs and turning around struggling businesses, as well as his detailed plans to get Virginia's economy back on track have resonated with Virginia voters.”

McAuliffe officials said the campaign raised $4.2 million between Jan. 1 and March 31 and now has $2.5 million on hand.

Candidates are required to report the amounts by April 15, but Mr. McAuliffe voluntarily announced his totals early. The campaign declined, however, to release donor names and totals Wednesday.

One of Mr. McAuliffe's rivals in the June 9 Democratic primary, former state Delegate Brian J. Moran, disclosed later Wednesday that he raised $800,000 within the same period.

The campaigns of state Sen. R. Creigh Deeds - the other Democrat in the race - and Republican candidate Bob McDonnell declined to release their first-quarter fundraising totals.

Mr. McAuliffe - a prolific fundraiser who once headed the national Democratic Party and is a close friend of Bill and Hillary Clinton - has traveled out of state during his campaign and tapped into a vast donor network that is expected to be reflected in his filed report.

“McAuliffe is as advertised - potentially the best-funded gubernatorial candidate Virginia's ever seen,” said Larry J. Sabato, director of the Center for Politics at the University of Virginia. “Our assumption simply was that with all of his contacts he would raise a ton of money, and he has.”

However, a high fundraising total doesn't guarantee a win in Virginia politics.

In the state's 2005 gubernatorial race, Democratic candidate and current Gov. Tim Kaine raised $2.6 million in the first quarter of 2005 compared with his Republican rival, Jerry Kilgore, who raised $5 million.

Moran spokesman Jesse Ferguson said his campaign is satisfied with the amount of money raised by Mr. Moran, and officials said the campaign more than doubled its fundraising pace in the quarter.

“We expect to be outspent, but we also expect to win,” Moran campaign chairman Mame Reiley said. “Virginia Democrats have long confirmed that money in and of itself does not sway them to a candidate. Instead, they want someone who is a proven fighter for their families and a leader who can win in November.”

Mr. McDonnell, meanwhile, has the relative luxury of being the lone Republican in the race - which is one of two gubernatorial contests in the country this year - and has attracted the attention of national party members.

The former attorney general has appeared with prominent Republicans such as former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee and Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal, and has received a $1 million donation from the Republican Governors Association.

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