Virginia governor’s race is most expensive in state history
RICHMOND, Va. – The three candidates for Virginia governor have raised $42 million for their campaigns, making this year’s race the most expensive gubernatorial contest in state history.Republican Jerry Kilgore, the former state attorney general, has raised more than $22 million, while Democratic Lt. Gov. Tim Kaine has collected $18.7 million, according to documents filed Monday with the State Board of Elections.Independent candidate Russ Potts, a dissident GOP state senator who has polled consistently below 5 percent, raised $1.3 million in contributions, according to the filings.Together, the total is nearly one-third more than the $31.7 million raised four years ago, which set the previous record for most expensive campaign.Kilgore’s fundraising also surpassed the record for an individual candidate of $20.2 million, set in 2001 by Democratic Gov. Mark R. Warner.The flood of cash into the race is not surprising considering the rising costs of consultant-driven campaigns, said Mark Rozell, a political science professor at George Mason University.”This is a particularly competitive race combined with the perception that the stakes are enormously high, and that has instigated all the donating, despite the fact that neither candidate inspires much passion,” Rozell said.Kaine spokesman Mo Elleithee said Kilgore’s fundraising advantage was not a threat.”When it comes to resources, our goal all along has been to get what we need and that’s what we’ve done. We knew they would outraise and outspend us,” he said.Kilgore spokesman Tim Murtaugh said the large donations reflect underlying voter support. “So we feel very good about where we are and that we will be able to have our message penetrate to the very end,” he said.Virginia imposes no limit on how much candidates may receive or spend but compels them to itemize all donations of $100 or more with details about donors.Independent polls conducted within the past 10 days have found Kaine and Kilgore locked in a tight race.Both Kaine and Kilgore began a final push for votes Monday, making pitches to a shrinking pool of uncommitted voters who will decide what is expected to be a close race Nov. 8.Kilgore talked about issues he believes will play to the vote-rich northern Virginia suburbs: congested commutes to work, the death penalty and illegal immigrants.Kaine stumped with Warner in the same region, discussing transportation and ways communities can hold runaway development in check. State law prevents Warner from a second consecutive term as governor.