- The Washington Times - Wednesday, September 16, 2009

A sizable outpouring from small donors similar to what delivered Virginia for Barack Obama in 2008 has helped Democratic gubernatorial candidate R. Creigh Deeds outraise his opponent for the last two reporting periods.

The Democrat raised $3.5 million in the most recent one, eclipsing the total of former Attorney General Robert F. McDonnell, who raised nearly $3 million, according to campaign-finance records released and collected by the nonpartisan Virginia Public Access Project.

Mr. McDonnell retained his cash-on-hand advantage.

In addition to several large donations from big-ticket donors, 68 percent of the Deeds campaign donors gave less than $200.

“Over the last weeks, we’ve seen a surge of grassroots support for Creigh Deeds,” campaign manager Joe Abbey said in announcing the numbers. “Virginians know that there’s a stark choice in this election between moving Virginia forward with Creigh Deeds and moving backwards with Bob McDonnell.”

Mr. Deeds raised more money during the fundraising period that ran between July 1 and Aug. 31 than any Democratic or Republican candidate raised in 2005 or 2001.

His donors included Washington Capitals and Mystics owner Ted Leonsis, who gave $37,500; real estate executive Robert H. Smith, who gave $25,000; former CarMax CEO Austin Ligon, who gave $15,000; Trader Publishing President Conrad Hall, who gave $15,000; and former Democratic National Committee chairman - and Mr. Deeds’ defeated primary opponent - Terry McAuliffe, who gave $25,000.

The McDonnell campaign received large donations from NewMarket Corp. founder Bruce Gottwald Sr., who gave $50,000; Paul Jones II of Tudor Investment Corp., of Greenwich, Conn., who gave $50,000; developer-builder William Royall Jr. of Royall & Co., in Richmond, who gave $50,000; private investor Edward Via of Roanoke, who gave $50,000; Clifford Asness, founder of AQR Capital Management, of Greenwich, Conn., who gave $25,000; and Howard and Susan Groff of Northwest Excavating, in Northridge, Calif., who together gave $50,000.

The Deeds campaign was able to attract 2,284 new donors, giving it a total of 3,453 donors during the period. The McDonnell campaign had 4,946 new donors and a total of 6,239 donors for the period.

Mr. McDonnell’s campaign manager, Phil Cox, touted the Republican’s higher number of donors.

“With a significant advantage in our cash on hand and nearly 2,500 more donors than our opponent, we have great momentum and are in a strong position for the final 50 days of this campaign,” Mr. Cox said. “The fact that we have nearly 2,500 more donors than Creigh Deeds is reflective of the grassroots energy we have seen building throughout our campaign. It is clear that Virginians are rallying behind Bob’s positive message of new jobs and more opportunities. They continue to demonstrate this through their continued contributions, phone banking and door-knocking.”

Mr. McDonnell retains his cash-on-hand advantage with $5.8 million in the coffers, while the Deeds campaign reported that it has $4.4 million.

The Deeds campaign has spent $5.3 million, nearly $2 million of which was spent during this past period.

In a poll of likely voters conducted by the nonpartisan District-based firm Clarus Research Group and released Tuesday, Mr. McDonnell was ahead of Mr. Deeds 42 percent to 37 percent.

With just two gubernatorial races in the country this year, the national parties have committed noticeable resources to the Virginia candidates.

On Tuesday, the Republican National Committee announced that it sent another $400,000 to the McDonnell campaign and will commit more than $7 million to win the governor’s race.

Katie Wright, a spokeswoman for the RNC, sent around a note to reporters Tuesday afternoon before the McDonnell campaign released its numbers, noting that the party is fully behind his campaign.

“The RNC is fully committed to ensuring that the campaign has the resources necessary to elect Bob McDonnell to [be the] next governor of Virginia,” she said.

The McDonnell campaign said it brought in $350,000 from the RNC, while Mr. Deeds garnered $775,000 from the Democratic National Committee.

Earlier this month the DNC announced that it will give $5 million to the Deeds campaign.

In other statewide races, Republican Lt. Gov. Bill Bolling announced that he raised over $546,739 and has $1.3 million on hand in his effort to retain the lieutenant governor’s seat. His opponent, former state Finance Secretary Jody M. Wagner, a Democrat, raised $636,074 and has $593,067 cash on hand.

Meanwhile, in the race for attorney general, Republican state Sen. Kenneth T. Cuccinelli II raised $617,381 and has $750,000 in cash on hand, while his Democratic opponent, Delegate Stephen C. Shannon, raised $537,178 and has more than $1.6 million on hand.

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