With Next Week's Primary Elections Looming, Which Candidates Have a Leg Up in Fundraising?

Jun 5, 2018

Democrat Alison Friedman is hoping to unseat Republican-incumbent Barbara Comstock in the state's 10th Congressional District.
Credit alisonforvirginia.com

Candidates for Congress are raising and spending millions of dollars in advance of next week’s primary election.

The big money in Virginia’s congressional races is in the 10th District, currently held by Barbara Comstock. Democrats are targeting that seat because Hillary Clinton won the district in the presidential election but it’s held by a Republican.

Campaign finance records compiled by the Virginia Public Access Project show Democrat Alison Friedman is leading the pack thanks to a $1 million donation from herself.

Steven Farnsworth at the University of Mary Washington says self-financing campaigns is becoming increasingly popular.

“It really says something about our campaign finance system that the only way to make the claim that you’re not corrupt is that you’re too rich to be bought.”

Other top-dollar races include the second district, currently held by Republican Scott Taylor, and the 7th District, currently held by Republican Dave Brat. Not all the big money is in competitive races, though. Democrat Gerry Connolly raised $154,000.

Quentin Kidd at Christopher Newport University suspects that money has a specific purpose.

“You raise a lot of money, you build up a war chest and then you go around and help other people who are in more competitive races and they return the favor by supporting your leadership bid. So it looks to me like Gerry Connolly might be setting himself up for a potential leadership position.”

Kidd says these fundraising numbers will pale in comparison to the numbers in the fall, which could end up being the most expensive congressional election in Virginia history.

This report, provided by Virginia Public Radio, was made possible with support from the Virginia Education Association.