McAuliffe dominates gubernatorial fundraising, reporting more cash than all opponents combined

By: - January 16, 2021 10:23 am

Former Gov. Terry McAuliffe speaks at the Democratic Party of Virginia’s 2019 Blue Commonwealth Gala. (Ned Oliver/Virginia Mercury)

Former Gov. Terry McAuliffe entered 2021 with more money in the bank than all other candidates for governor combined, according to year-end campaign finance reports that were due Friday.

McAuliffe, who was expected to have a strong money advantage given his background in political fundraising and ties to national Democrats, began the year with more than $5.5 million on hand.

Former Del. Jennifer Carroll Foy reported almost $1.3 million on hand, state Sen. Jennifer McClellan, D-Richmond reported about $633,000 and Lt. Gov. Justin Fairfax reported nearly $80,000.

Del. Lee Carter, D-Manassas, who just officially entered the field Jan. 1, reported about $7,000 on hand in his House of Delegates re-election account.

The new reports cover money raised in the second half of 2020, from July 1 through Dec. 31.

On the Republican side, former House Speaker Kirk Cox, R-Colonial Heights, reported about $690,000 between his gubernatorial and delegate fundraising accounts. Sen. Amanda Chase, R-Chesterfield, reported roughly $235,000 between her two accounts.

Two other Republican candidates, businessman Glenn Youngkin and former Trump administration Pentagon official Sergio de la Peña, entered the race after the fundraising deadline.

Republicans are still trying to sort out how they’ll pick their nominee. The party’s current preference is for a nominating convention, but some want to switch to a primary to allow more people to participate and avoid the logistical problems of trying to safely hold a mass gathering with the COVID-19 pandemic expected to continue well into 2021.

Democrats haven’t lost a statewide race since 2009, when former Gov. Bob McDonnell defeated a badly outspent Sen. Creigh Deeds, D-Bath.

Deeds was also outspent by McAuliffe in that year’s Democratic primary yet he won the nomination by a large margin.

The McAuliffe campaign touted his overall fundraising for 2020, $6.1 million for the year, as a record-setting sum for the year prior to a gubernatorial election.

Money won’t be the only factor in a five-way Democratic primary. The party has said it plans to hold four debates before the June 8 primary, and candidates have just begun rolling out their policy platforms.

But with McAuliffe already enjoying strong name recognition as someone who’s already been governor once, his four competitors will be trying to raise their statewide profiles and reach voters who may not pay close attention to the statehouse.

More details on the campaign finance reports are available here from the Virginia Public Access Project.

With the start of the General Assembly session last week, Democratic candidates who currently hold office will have to put fundraising on hold due to Virginia’s ban on in-session fundraising. That won’t be an impediment for McAuliffe and Carroll Foy, who abruptly resigned from her House seat last year in part so she could continue to raise money.

Our stories may be republished online or in print under Creative Commons license CC BY-NC-ND 4.0. We ask that you edit only for style or to shorten, provide proper attribution and link to our web site. Please see our republishing guidelines for use of photos and graphics.

Graham Moomaw
Graham Moomaw

A veteran Virginia politics reporter, Graham grew up in Hillsville and Lynchburg, graduating from James Madison University and earning a master's degree in journalism from the University of Maryland. Before joining the Mercury in 2019, he spent six years at the Richmond Times-Dispatch, most of that time covering the governor's office, the General Assembly and state politics. He also covered city hall and politics at The Daily Progress in Charlottesville.