Here’s how many out-of-state donors contributed big money to local races

Posted at 11:10 PM, Oct 31, 2018
and last updated 2018-10-31 23:36:57-04

RICHMOND, Va - In two of the big money midterm elections Central Virginia voters will help decide, the incumbent candidate has received more major contributions from out-of-state individual donors than their challenger.

A CBS 6 Problem Solvers Investigation looked into how many major donors are actually from Virginia in the U.S. Senate race between Sen. Time Kaine (D) and Corey Stewart (R) and the 7th district congressional race between Rep. Dave Brat (R) and Abigail Spanberger (D).

Kaine has raised nearly $20 million more than Stewart this election cycle, according to Federal Election Commission (FEC) data.

Kaine has raised $22.3 million, Stewart has raised $2.6 million, and Libertarian Matt Waters has raised $56, 330.

Federal election laws allow individual donors to contribute $2,700 per election to a candidates campaign.  CBS 6 analyzed the "max donors" for both the Kaine and Stewart campaigns.

Kaine has received 1,696 max donations during this election cycle, according to the FEC's October report.  Of those nearly 1,700 donations, 383 of them were made by donors from Virginia.  Stewart has only received 85 max donations, but 60 of the donors are from Virginia.

CBS 6 political analyst Dr. Bob Holsworth said the finding is not surprising considering both men's political resume.

"One, [Kaine] was a Vice Presidential candidate, so he has a national profile for that. . . Secondly, Tim Kaine is an incumbent, and so he sits on a number of important committees," Holsworth said.  "When you talk about Corey Stewart's donors, or the big donors, they're going to be people who worked with him in his role as chair of the board of the Prince William County Board of Supervisors."

The national Republican Party distanced themselves from Stewart following his nomination victory, Holsworth said, which is one reason Kaine's fundraising lead is so large.

Major dollars have flowed into Central Virginia because of the 7th district congressional race between Rep. Brat and Spanberger.  The race has seen the second-highest fundraising total of the ten Virginia House races, and both major party candidates have a similar number of major individual donors, according to October FEC reports.

Looking at individual donors who contributed more than $2,000 to the campaign, more than half of Brat's major individual donors (87/158) are not from Virginia.  Meanwhile, 35 of Spanberger's major donors are from out of state.

"Just like Tim Kaine, Dave Brat is an incumbent, serves on committees.  He's going to have some donors from out of state," Holsworth said.

When looking at fundraising totals, Spanberger has raised $5.9 million, Brat has raised $2.7 million, and Libertarian Joe Walton has raised $6,572.

Holsworth said a strong third quarter by Spanberger, in which her camp raised more than $3 million in three months, is likely fueled by a flood of small donations from supporters both inside and outside the 7th district.

These fundraising totals do not include money spent by independent political organizations, who have poured unprecedented amounts of money into the 7th district.  According the Virginia Public Access Project, outside groups have spent almost $7 million on the race, with $2.7 going towards "anti-Brat" ads and $3.8 million going to "anti-Spanberger" ads.

Holsworth said outside money is responsible for most of the aggressive TV attack ads that have flooded the region of late.

"The 7th district has become, on a national screen, a competitive seat, so what then happens is that all of these dollars funnel into the 7th district," Holsworth said.

Bob Cohn moved to Richmond from Pennsylvania a few months ago.  Cohn said he still feels his vote is more powerful than any fundraising dollar.

"Well, I think we've had enough of rhetoric and yelling and screaming and talking," Cohn said.  "Whether that has an effect or not, I don't know.  I've know I've never been influenced by a campaign ad."

Two other congressional races in Central Virginia have seen much lower fundraising totals: the 4th district race between Rep. Donald McEachin (D), Ryan McAdams (R), and Peter Wells (L); and the 1st district race between Rep. Rob Wittman (R) and Vangie Williams (D).

The amount of fundraising dollars in the 7th district is triple the amount of the totals for the 1st and 4th districts combined.  Political analysts said this shows national political figures do not see either race as competitive.

Election day is November 6th.  You can read the complete CBS 6 Election guide by clicking here.

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