Gillespie, Northam Campaigns Regroup After Homestead Debate

Virginia finds itself again in a bellwether election, this time to test the nation’s temperament toward the man in the White House. November’s results could provide insight into the 2018 mid-term elections.

There are only two gubernatorial races in the country this year. Republicans are not expected to prevail in New Jersey so all eyes are on our Governor’s race between 55-year-old Republican Ed Gillespie and 57-year-old Democrat Ralph Northam.

Their respective political parties are eager for a win, directing resources and money to the Commonwealth. In-boxes have been filled with the tiresome but obligatory chest-thumping emails as both sides point fingers at their opponent to expose the “big money” campaign contributions when, in reality, the money-dumping is happening on both sides. Unfortunately, that doesn’t stop the “he’s in trouble so they are trying to help him with more money” dialogue.

After Saturday’s gubernatorial debate at The Homestead, the Republican Governors Association dug deep for another $2 million to boost the Gillespie campaign, bringing their total contribution so far to $3 million. In a race that the polls say is tied (if there’s anyone out there who believes polls anymore), it’s a smart thing to do.

On the other side of the aisle, Ralph Northam had already received $1 million from the Democratic Governors Association prior to the debate. After Saturday he received an additional $1.5 million from the Democratic National Committee who also raised the ante by providing three top DNC staffers.

During the primary season Northam had outraised Gillespie — $9.4 million to Gillespie’s $6.7 million — but most of Northam’s money was spent during the primary when he was Cuccinelli-ed by former Democratic Congressman Tom Perriello, fighting off an unexpected intra-party battle that left him with only $1.75 million cash on hand. The payoff, however, was a resounding 12-point win (56-44%) but he now has to hustle and restock the cash till for the long stretch ahead.

Gillespie, on the other hand, sat on his money during the primary, perhaps not taking seriously enough the threat of a very active and vocal but scarcely credible Corey Stewart who almost picked him off on the way to a primary win. Gillespie barely eked out a one-point advantage (43.7-42.5%), and that was only after his supporters statewide suffered varying degrees of nervous breakdowns as they hunched over laptop screens wringing their hands watching the slow-as-molasses poll numbers roll in. Time will tell if that gamble pays off in November but the result was Gillespie diving for the finish line triumphantly clutching $3.2 million cash in hand.

Gillespie’s reward for his primary frugalness is three statewide television ads that began airing this week. It’s an advantage Northam does not have at the moment but cash infusions will go a long way toward eventually blasting his message over the airwaves somewhere down the campaign road.

Stay tuned. It’s going to be an exciting autumn.

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