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McDonnell posts big fundraising numbers, as electeds file mid-year finance reports

Rosalind Helderman

Gov. Bob McDonnell (R) raised almost three-quarters of a million dollars for his political action committee Opportunity Virginia from April through June, an impressive total given that it's an off-year for state elections.

His committee reported raising $721,000 in the reporting period from 534 donors, and ended June with $778,000 in the bank. Given that about 400 of those donors gave $100 or less, McDonnell has clearly been taking in some pretty hefty gifts from big-dollar donors.

"I think the numbers reflect the broad support the governor has across the state," said committee director Phil Cox. "We exceeded our goal for this period. And we did it at a time when the governor spent almost no time personally raising money."

Every candidate with a state committee had a finance report due today, covering the period ending June 30. Initial data have been posted by the Virginia Public Access Project, a nonpartisan tracker of money in politics.

Lt. Gov. Bill Bolling posted strong numbers as well, collecting $335,000 from 1,147 donors during the reporting period. Much of the money came from a single fundraiser Bolling held in June. "This is the first reporting cycle, three and a half years from out from the election," Bolling Chief of Staff Randy Marcus said. "Given that fact, I think we're very happy. We're really more focused on making sure Bill does a good job as chief job creation officer and that we focus on elections between now and 2013. But it gives us some money in the bank to start to build up."

Bolling has been clear that he plans to run for governor in 2013. Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli (R) has said he'd like to run for reelection to his current post. But he has refused to rule out challenging Bolling for the Republican nomination for governor. Cuccinelli has also been accused by Democrats of using his office as a fundraising tool, a charge he denies.

So how'd did Cuccinelli's numbers look in the first report he has filed? Not bad. Between his two committees, Cuccinelli for Attorney General and Liberty Now, he raised about $198,000 from 1,151 donors.

Cuccinelli political director Noah Wall played down the importance of the numbers, insisting that the attorney general has spent little time on fundraising in recent months as he's learned the ropes of his new job.

But he said the campaign is pleased by the number of small donors to his committee, a sign, he said, that Cuccinelli is keeping up his famed grass-roots network of supporters. Indeed, more than half of Cuccinelli's donors gave $100 or less. "The numbers from the first half of the year are not representative of what you'll see for the whole year," Wall said. "We haven't spent a lot of time fundraising."

Also reporting today are political action committees run by Del. Ward Armstrong, the House's leading Democrat, and House Speaker Bill Howell. Howell's totals swamped Armstrong's But to be fair, the report for Howell's Dominion Leadership Trust includes fundraising from the committee's annual hobnobbing retreat with lobbyists at the Homestead in May, it's main money collector for the year.

Armstrong hosted a similar event jointly with Senate Democrats this month, but because it took place after the end of the finance reporting period June 30, money coughed up by lobbyists for their time with Democrats is not reflected in this report.

UPDATE: An original version of this item goofed a bit on how Armstrong and Howell handle their committee fundraising. The money collected by House Republicans from lobbyists at their annual Homestead retreat in May is reflected in the report filed by the House Republican Campaign Committee, which reported raising about $420,000 during the period.

Meanwhile, Howell's own committee Dominion Leadership Trust raised about $268,400 and the speaker raised about $39,400 for his own campaign committee. Armstrong raised just $1,425 for his committee A Strong Majority but $71,600 for his delegate committee.

Democratic fundraising that took place at the Homestead this month will not be reported publicaly until the next finance reports are filed. Those donations will show up in the bank account of the Commonwealth Victory Fund, the joint committee of the Democratic House and Senate committees. It reported raising $280,650 during this past period.

By Rosalind Helderman  |  July 15, 2010; 6:20 PM ET
Categories:  Bill Bolling , General Assembly 2010 , House of Delegates , Ken Cuccinelli , Robert F. McDonnell , Rosalind Helderman , State Senate  
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