Originally in the Washington Post

RICHMOND — A veteran Virginia Republican is falling far behind in fundraising, raising Democratic hopes of taking over the closely divided state Senate.

Pediatrician Jill McCabe raised more than three times what state Sen. Richard H. Black (R-Lou­doun) collected in June — $91,000 to $29,000.

The state Democratic Party was even further ahead of its Republican counterpart, taking in over a million dollars during three months while the GOP raised only $69,000. While Democrats have only $171,000 of that cash left to spend, Republicans have a mere $11,000 on hand as of June 30.

McCabe has consistently outraised Black, an outspoken conservative and staunch opponent of abortion and gay marriage. However, the incumbent still ended June with more money in the bank: $252,000 to McCabe’s $191,000.

Black is also being targeted by Emily’s List, a well-funded group that backs female Democratic candidates who support abortion rights.

“I don’t get terribly emotional about this,” said Black, who was first elected to the narrowly Republican seat in 2011. “We tend to be an extremely cost-efficient operation. . . . So we really don’t get too worried about money.”

Noting that he still has more cash on hand, Black said his campaign saves by doing work that others outsource to consultants and relying on a grass-roots network of loyal volunteers.

Another Democratic recruit, Chesterfield County Supervisor Daniel A. Gecker, also had a strong fundraising period. Between May 28 and June 30, he pulled in about $134,000. But after a hard-fought primary, Gecker had just $72,000 in the bank at the end of the month. Republican rival Glen Sturtevant raised just $51,000, but having had no primary opponent, still held about $96,000 in cash on hand.

Democrats, who need to pick up one seat to take control of the chamber, see the Richmond-area seat being vacated by Republican state Sen. John C. Watkins as one of their best hopes. Watkins held onto the seat for more than 30 years, even as his Richmond-area district grew more diverse and blue by dint of his moderate reputation and personal popularity.

All 140 legislative seats are up for grabs in November, but with the House of Delegates firmly in Republican control, most of the attention and campaign cash are being lavished on the Senate, according to campaign finance reports compiled Thursday by the Virginia Public Access Project, a nonpartisan tracker of money in politics.

The outcome of those contests could decide whether Gov. Terry McAuliffe (D) is able to get his legislative priorities through the General Assembly in the remaining two years of his term. Regaining control of the Senate seems to be the governor’s only chance for leverage on Capitol Square, where Republicans enjoy an overwhelming majority in the House of Delegates but a narrow one in the upper chamber.

Even if they can’t always be used to predict winners and losers, the campaign finance reports shed light on legislative races all across the commonwealth.

In another hotly contested Northern Virginia race, this one to replace retiring Sen. Charles J. Colgan (D-Prince William), Democrat Jeremy McPike, who works for the city of Alexandria, brought in $64,000 and ended the period with $42,000 on hand. Manassas Mayor Harry J. “Hal” Parrish II (R) raised $50,000 but had far more in the bank: $213,000.

Lots of money also poured into the race between Sen. Frank Wagner (R-Virginia Beach) and his Democratic challenger, Cox Communications executive Gary McCollum. Wagner brought in about $162,000 and has $513,000 in the bank. McCollum raised nearly $193,000 and has $403,000 in the bank.

The GOP sees one of its chief pickup opportunities in Roanoke, where Sen. John Edwards (D-Roanoke) is trying to fight off two challengers. Edwards brought in just over $50,000, while Republican Nancy Dye, a surgeon, raised about $30,000. Both had nearly the same amount on hand: $117,560 for Dye and $116,534 for Edwards. Roanoke Commonwealth’s Attorney Don Caldwell is also in that race as an independent. Caldwell’s bid is widely expected to hurt Edwards, because the prosecutor is a longtime Democrat with a following in that party, but Caldwell raised just $11,000 and had less than $10,000 on hand.

In the House, where control of the chamber is not in doubt, the biggest fundraiser was Speaker William J. Howell (R-Stafford), who took in $114,000. After easily defeating an aggressive tea party primary challenger, he still had $440,000 in the bank. His Democratic rival, Kandy Hilliard, raised about $15,000 and had about $17,000 on hand.

Raising almost as much as Howell was Republican Chuong Nguyen, a Vietnamese immigrant and lawyer in a three-way race for the seat being vacated by Del. David Ramadan (R-Loudoun).

Nguyen took in $108,000 for the period and had $90,000 on hand. Democrat John Bell raised $50,000, but still had about as much as Nguyen in cash. Libertarian Brian Suojanen raised just $451 and had all but $19 of it left to spend.

Another big fundraiser on the House side was Del. Kathleen Murphy (D-Fairfax), who is in a rematch with Republican Craig Parisot. In January, Murphy narrowly won a special election to represent a Northern Virginia district that includes portions of Fairfax and Loudoun counties, winning the seat that Rep. Barbara Comstock (R-Va.) vacated when she moved to Congress.

Murphy took in $80,000 and had $225,000 on hand, while Parisot raised $59,000 and had $106,000 in the bank.

The overall winner in this latest money chase has already lost his actual race.

Alexander B. McMurtrie Jr., a former state delegate who had hoped to move up to state Senate, reported raising more money than anyone else in May and June — a whopping $200,000, every penny of it from his own checkbook. But in early June, McMurtrie lost to Gecker in the Democratic primary.


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