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Big money pours into Virginia campaigns for governor

Terry McAuliffe and Glenn Youngkin.png
Posted at 2:30 PM, Oct 20, 2021

NORFOLK, Va. -- With two weeks to go until Election Day in Virginia, the race for governor is setting a new campaign fundraising record.

Both Democrat Terry McAuliffe and Republican Glenn Youngkin have combined to bring in more than $88 million in total fundraising, a new high in the Virginia governor's contest, according to the Virginia Public Access Project.

Virginia is seeing national attention as one of two states holding a governor's race in 2021.

"There's kind of a lot of free money, if you want to think about it that way, that's not going into other state elections or other federal elections," said Dr. Ben Melusky, a political science professor at Old Dominion University.

In the latest campaign finance reporting period, McAuliffe outraised Youngkin $12.6 million to $7 million. Both candidates received more than $1 million from the Democratic and Republican Governors Association.

There is a gap on where the money is coming from. VPAP reports about two-thirds of Youngkin's donations in September came from within Virginia. McAuliffe saw about 38% of his fundraising haul come from Virginians.

McAuliffe's largest donor outside of party insiders came from a real estate development company in Richmond. McAuliffe reported large donations from labor unions and advocacy groups.

The candidates are spending their millions on ads, along with other expenses. VPAP reports Youngkin spend more than $6 million in September on online ads, along with other materials, compared to about $700,000 on TV and radio ads.

In the same time, McAuliffe spent more than $10 million on TV and radio ads, including more than $1 million on ads on the streaming service Hulu.

"It's the cash burn down we're going to see over the next few weeks here," said Melusky. "If you've got the money on hand this is the time to use it."

COMPLETE COVERAGE: Virginia Voter Guide to the 2021 Election