- The Washington Times - Friday, January 16, 2009

Terry McAuliffe’s political clout is paying off — so far.

The former national party chairman outraised his competitors in the Democratic race for Virginia’s governorship during the latter part of last year — although he fell short of besting the contest’s lone Republican — and has tapped into political capital from heavyweights that include novelist John Grisham and a former top donor to Bill and Hillary Rodham Clinton’s legal fund.

“We feel very good about where we are,” McAuliffe spokeswoman Delacey Skinner said. “We have really focused during the exploratory period on raising money in Virginia.”

Candidates were required by Thursday to file campaign finance reports with the state elections board for the period from July through December. Mr. McAuliffe reported raising $947,505 during the recent fundraising period, with roughly $718,000 unspent.

Mr. McAuliffe, who also served as the head of Mrs. Clinton’s failed presidential campaign, began officially exploring a gubernatorial bid in November, shortening the amount of time he had to solicit donations.

By comparison, former state delegate Brian J. Moran — a Democrat who resigned last month to focus on the three-way nomination race full time - reported he raised $754,899 during the latter part of last year.

Mr. Moran raised more than $2.1 million total in 2008 and had $769,605 cash on hand at the end of the year, his campaign said. State Sen. R. Creigh Deeds of Bath County, another Democrat in the race, raised $658,000 in the last period and $1.5 million total, with $891,000 still unspent.

Meanwhile, Attorney General Bob McDonnell, who some say will benefit from being the only Republican candidate in the otherwise crowded field, reported raising $1.6 million in the past six months and more than $1 million since Election Day in November.

The Republican has more than $2 million on hand, his campaign said, and raised roughly $2.5 million since the beginning of 2008. His donors include former Republican National Committee Chairman Ed Gillespie, who gave $10,000; H. Gary Heavin, the Texas-based founder of the fitness chain Curves International who donated $25,000 and Altria, the parent company of tobacco giant Phillip Morris, which gave two donations of $10,000 each during the last period.

“This campaign finance report is a sign of growing momentum and strength,” McDonnell campaign manager Phil Cox said. “As Democrats continue to wage an expensive and competitive nomination [contest], Bob McDonnell is building the resources he needs to win in November.”

Mr. McAuliffe’s national fundraising prowess as head of the DNC has sparked expectations that he will turn the Democratic nominating contest into a high-stakes, high-spending race.

Of the nearly $1 million Mr. McAuliffe has raised thus far, less than $40,000 came from out-of-state donors, Miss Skinner said.

Among those who contributed the most to Mr. McAuliffe are billionaire businessman Randal J. Kirk, a major donor to Gov. Tim Kaine’s political action committee who gave $100,000 to Mr. McAuliffe; Mr. Grisham, who gave $50,000 and A. Huda Farouki, a corporate executive and former donor to Bill and Hillary Clinton’s Legal Expense Trust who also gave $50,000 to Mr. McAuliffe.

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