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UPDATED: McDonnell spent twice as much as Deeds in final days

Rosalind Helderman

In the final days of Virginia's gubernatorial campaign, Gov.-elect Bob McDonnell spent more than twice as much as Democrat Creigh Deeds, according to reports each campaign filed to the state board of elections today.

In just a little bit, we're expecting some analysis of the numbers from the Virginia Public Access Project, which will show a direct comparison of spending in this year's campaign versus past years.

Based on early reports we've received from each campaign, we can say that McDonnell raised $2.52 million in the period between Oct. 22 and Nov. 26 from 3,754 donors. It's fair to assume the vast majority of that money came in before the Nov. 3 election. McDonnell spent $3.75 million over that period.

That compares to about $909,000 raised by Deeds and $1.76 million spent.

"We knew it was happening," said Joe Abbey, former campaign manager for Deeds. "I don't think anyone knew the exact number, but you could just tell. They were spending money at a rate that clearly indicated they had a lot of money coming at them."

We'll have more from VPAP soon on totals raised and spent over the whole campaign cycle and how that compares to past years.

This much seems clear already: Despite the economic recession, this was the most costly gubernatorial campaign in Virginia history, if you count the expensive, three-way Democratic primary campaign. If you look at only spending by the two major party candidates, however, more appears to have been spent in 2005.

Tucker Martin, McDonnell's spokesman, said the numbers are "indicative of the tremendous momentum enjoyed by our campaign in the final days and weeks of the race. They demonstrate the continually growing support that ultimately resulted in the Governor-elect receiving the most votes of any candidate for governor in Virginia history."

Abbey said he believed McDonnell's edge would appear even larger after spending by the state and the national party committees is included..

"When you spend that much more than your opponent, you get to define the debate on your terms," he said. "It's hard to punch through that and dominate the conversation. It made it very challenging for us in the final stretch."

UPDATED: According to VPAP, a nonprofit that tracks money in politics, Deeds and McDonnell together spent $40.5 million over the four-year election cycle, compared to $45.2 million spent by former attorney general Jerry Kilgore and Gov. Tim Kaine in 2005.

Counting spending that took place during the Democratic primary, however, $53 million was spent on the gubernatorial race over the last four years, the most ever in Virginia history.

By Rosalind Helderman  |  December 3, 2009; 4:41 PM ET
Categories:  2009 Governor's Race , Creigh Deeds , Election 2009 , Robert F. McDonnell , Rosalind Helderman  
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