- Associated Press - Saturday, September 16, 2017

RICHMOND, Va. (AP) - Democrat Ralph Northam has surged to a campaign fundraising edge over Republican Ed Gillespie in the governor’s race in Virginia, according to campaign finance reports.

The latest reports for July and August were filed late Friday.

They show that Northam went from a $1.5 million cash-on-hand disadvantage on July 1 to a $3 million edge as of Aug. 30.

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Northam’s campaign now has a balance of about $5.6 million, compared to $2.6 million for Gillespie’s campaign.

Gillespie came out of the summer primary with an edge in campaign money. Northam had to spend heavily to defeat a well-funded challenge from former U.S. Rep. Tom Perriello. Gillespie did not spend as much, but was nearly upset by an underfunded Trump-like candidate.

Virginia is one of only two states electing governors in 2017. The contest is getting national attention as a potential early referendum on President Donald Trump.

In addition to both campaigns, politically active out-of-state groups backed by billionaire donors - including Charles and David Koch, Michael Bloomberg and Tom Steyer - have pledged to spend millions of dollars on the race.

Virginia has a no-limit campaign finance system. In 2013, the candidates combined to spend about $60 million on that election. The winner, Democratic Gov. Terry McAuliffe, is not allowed to seek a second term under Virginia’s Constitution.

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