Campaign finance reports were filed this week and former Republican National Committee Chairman Ed Gillespie leads Lieutenant Governor Ralph Northam with $3.2 million cash on hand.
Late Monday afternoon, Gillespie released a statement:
2017 Republican gubernatorial nominee Ed Gillespie today reported $3.2 million cash-on-hand, nearly doubling reports by Ralph Northam ($1.75 million) for the second consecutive public reporting period. The Gillespie campaign further reported raising $1.8 million in the month of June.
“Cathy and I are so grateful for the broad support our campaign has earned,” said Gillespie. “Virginians are enthusiastic about our positive, policy-focused message, and this strong financial support will help me to continue sharing our vision across the Commonwealth.”
There are three points that need to be stated about Gillespie’s numbers, the first of which is that he gambled on the primary to have a big showing in the first finance report of the general. Many Virginia political observers (myself included) have chastised the Gillespie campaign for not using their vast amount of resources in the primary to defeat Corey Stewart.
While I still believe another half-a-million dollars could have found another 50K+ primary voters, it seems that Gillespie’s gamble paid off. He now has a commanding lead over Northam on fundraising. The money that Gillespie now has, along with funds from the RGA and RSLC, will sustain him through a majority of the general election.
Second, Lieutenant Governor Ralph Northam is between a rock and a hard place. Simply put, he’s running out of donors. Northam spent the entire primary being wishy-washy on the Atlantic Coast Pipeline. Now he supports the pipeline, alienating every environmental voter in the Democratic Party. He has alienated the anti-gun crowd, since he voted for George W. Bush twice and was previously endorsed by the NRA. He can only rely so much on the abortion lobby. Northam has to figure out how to excite bored Democratic donors with a Democratic campaign of the past. It simply isn’t going to work.
Third, Ralph Northam now NEEDS the debates. As many know, Ed Gillespie challenged Ralph Northam to ten debates across the Commonwealth. Northam only agreed to three debates. Northam now needs the debates to get his message to the voters. He can barely get ads on the air for a week in NOVA with the paltry $1.7 million. Northam will need every televised debate and forum possible to get his message out to Virginians. If I was Northam, I’d be pushing for a televised debate once a week to make up for my poor fundraising.
This Saturday is the Virginia Bar Association’s gubernatorial debate. This will be the first debate between Ed Gillespie and Ralph Northam, which will be held at the Omni Homestead in Hot Springs, Virginia. If Gillespie comes out swinging and wins the debate, the Northam campaign could be in crisis mode by Saturday.
Stay tuned to Bearing Drift as we bring you all the coverage from the Homestead on Saturday.
The Virginia Bar Association Gubernatorial Debate will be live-streamed on PBS’ website.