VA-2 and VA-7 Pre-Primary Fundraising Round-up
We previously covered the Q1 roundup for the most competitive districts in Virginia, VA-2, VA-7, and VA-10. The 10th held a party-run canvas in May, leaving just two races to report on for the pre-primary period covering April 1st to June 1st. All information from www.fec.gov/data.
As with before, our focus will be on the Republican nomination – though we’ll note the relative strength of the incumbent’s fundraising, as expected for an incumbent facing a (potentially) marquee race.
As a note: VPAP’s figures (and others being bandied) may include PAC funding. The figures below represent just the money raised by the authorized campaign committees, as an indicator of the work and support that each campaign was able to generate on their own.
While not always the case, candidates that show an ability to generate massive and widespread financial support tend to do better in elections than candidates that are only able to generate narrow or meager financial support. This proved itself in VA-10, where the top vote getters (including the nominee, Hung Cao) proved to be the most prolific fundraisers as well.
Elaine Luria (i):
04/01 – 06/01 Raised: $696K
Cash on Hand: $3.3M
04/01 – 06/01 Raised: $197K
Cash on Hand: $489K
04/01 – 06/01 Raised: $66K
Cash on Hand: $20K (with $31K in debt)
04/01 – 06/01 Raised: $57K
Cash on Hand: $35K (with $14K in debt)
04/01 – 06/01 Raised: $7K
Cash on Hand: $10K (with $15K in debt)
Kiggans is cruising to the nomination, and is building her war chest to go up against Luria in the fall in what will be one of the marquee races in the country.
There’s little to say about the other candidates in terms of competing for the nomination. Altman and Baan are on the outside looking in, in terms of fundraising, but their hopes of being the “more conservative” alternative to Kiggans is complicated by Jarome Bell. As a reminder, Bell sociopathically called for the arrest and execution of election officials due to the false claims of voter fraud in the 2020 election. It’s worth keeping that in mind when you consider that Bell was endorsed by Bob Good and even was pulled on stage by former President Trump at Mar-A-Lago.
However, as we’ve seen in other races across the country, running on the lie that 2020 was stolen from Trump hasn’t proven to be all that effective in nomination contests. Which isn’t to say that Republican candidates won’t repeat the lie, or use a more milquetoast version of saying there are “questions” or “concerns” about the election, but underfunded candidates hoping to use it as a point of differentiation haven’t been able to mobilize voters using it.
Bell’s campaign is good for illustrating a concept that is hard to define, though. If you look at his fundraising totals, particularly the half-million he’s raised so far this cycle, you might think that he’s catching fire and tapping into a segment of the primary electorate that is itching for his firebrand type of politics. However, Bell has an astronomical burn rate. Moreover, most of his donors live out of the district and even out of the state, and have zero connection to the 2nd District (most of Kiggans’ donors are local). This is a clear sign of using high-cost, low-margin direct mail fundraising targeting a national list. It costs a fortune and barely pays for itself; but it allows you to show big numbers, and if you can’t fundraise that much from the donors who know the district well, it allows you to tap into a different pool of resources.
Bell’s campaign has proven to be a boon for his consultants (and, ironically, the biggest beneficiary has been the USPS). While Bell’s campaign is in debt, that is not from a self-loan, but because he owes consultants money and he must continue to pay his fundraiser to raise money to pay them back. Despite spending a half-million dollars, though, it hasn’t put him any closer to winning the nomination.
Abigail Spanberger (i):
04/01 – 06/01 Raised: $638K
Cash on Hand: $4.3M
04/01 – 06/01 Raised: $144K
Cash on Hand: $183K
04/01 – 06/01 Raised: $143K
Cash on Hand: $118K
04/01 – 06/01 Raised: $67K
Cash on Hand: $149K
04/01 – 06/01 Raised: $31K
Cash on Hand: $418K (with $400K in debt)
04/01 – 06/01 Raised: $21K
Cash on Hand: $50K (with $53K in debt)
04/01 – 06/01 Raised: $20K
Cash on Hand: $11K
Ten days out, and the GOP nomination is a clear three-person race, with Reeves and Vega as the leaders but Anderson mounting a close dark-horse bid. Going beyond the numbers for a minute, it’s been clear that Vega holds a strong advantage in her home base of the more suburban Prince William County, which makes a plurality of the district, while Reeves would have an advantage in his home base from the more rural parts of the district. Anderson’s strength complicates things for both candidates: being from the majority southern part, Anderson threatens to pull first place support from Reeves, but also threatens as a barrier to being the prime non-Reeves vote in those areas that Vega was hoping to be. Ultimately, the path to the nomination is clearer for Reeves and Vega, but all three are in contention down the stretch.
Looking at the numbers, Reeves and Vega are neck-and-neck, with Reeves narrowly outraising Vega this two-month period. Anderson didn’t raise as much, but has raised (and spent) a comparable amount this cycle, and all three have similar resources on hand for the last week’s push. No matter which of the three wins, they’ll face a stiff test to closing the gap with Spanberger. There’s a lot you can say about the Democratic incumbent, but she is no stranger to close races and is fundraising like her political life depends on it (which it does).
The other three GOP candidates aren’t raising or spending much at all. It’s worth noting that both Vanuch and Ross have self-loaned resources that could potentially help them compete, but haven’t used them. In Vanuch’s case, this helps make pretend that she has the most cash-on-hand and is competing for the nomination. However, candidates are allowed to just give their campaigns money; they’re also allowed to loan it, where the campaign can later pay them back.
A week out from the election, if you see a candidate whose cash-on-hand is similar to the amount of their loan, it’s clear they are not looking to tap too deeply into it and threaten getting that money back in full.