In a welcome surprise for Virginia Democrats, their legislative candidates out-raised their Republican counterparts in the first quarter of 2019, according to fundraising reports made public on Tuesday.
While Virginia’s top three Democrats posted weak numbers after their various controversies, the scandals didn’t trickle down to the party’s candidates for the House of Delegates or the Senate.
With all 100 House seats up for grabs this fall, Democratic candidates raised $2.4 million, while Republicans only raised $1.7 million. On the Senate side, where all 40 seats will be on the ballot, Democrats raised $1.9 million while their Republican counterparts raised $1.1 million.
Democrats may have had a strong first quarter, they still lag behind the Republicans in total campaign cash on hand. In the Senate, Republicans have $4.9 million cash on hand compared to $4.4 million for Democrats.
The gap in the House is much more pronounced as Republicans have $6 million in the bank, while Democrats only have $4.2 million. Much of this advantage can be credited to Speaker Kirk Cox (R-66), who raised a record $2.4 million in 2018. Cox faces a competitive election this year after a federal judge drew a new redistricting map.
During the first quarter, Cox raised $64,492 through an individual committee, but also added another $222,933 through his Colonial Leadership Trust PAC. In contrast, his opponent, Sheila Bynum-Coleman, only raised $34,247.
Other top fundraisers on the House side include Del. Tim Hugo (R-40), who raised $162,216, and his opponent, Democratic candidate Daniel Helmer, who raised $124,318. Del. Danica A. Roem (D-13) also had a strong showing, raising $71,254 in the first quarter.
Del. Debra H. Rodman (D-73), who is running for the Senate against Sen. Siobhan Dunnavant (R-12), posted strong numbers as well, raising $178,918 to Dunnavant’s $49,605.
Another endangered Republican incumbent, Glen Sturtevant (R-10), posted relatively weak numbers, raising just under $45,000, but he has $216,084 on hand, significantly more than any of the three Democrats vying to run against him.
Republicans currently hold a 51-49 edge in the House and a 21-19 advantage in the Senate, but Democrats had a strong showing in the state’s 2017 elections, picking up 15 seats in the House of Delegates. This year, Democrats are looking to flip both houses, which would give them power over both the governor’s mansion and state legislature for the first time in over 25 years.
With their majorities in danger, Republicans will continue to highlight the scandals facing the top of the Democratic party, while Democrats are likely to highlight Republicans’ refusal to pass gun safety measures, raise the minimum wage, or approve the Equal Rights Amendment.