With all the national implications of the Virginia gubernatorial race, money is being pumped into both campaigns from both the Republican and Democratic national committees.
With all the national implications of the Virginia gubernatorial race, money is being pumped into both campaigns from both the Republican and Democratic national committees. The RNC has donated $8 million to Republican nominee Bob McDonnell. The DNC has given $5 million to Creigh Deeds as of a week ago and plans to throw in another $1 million soon. It appears that the DNC is trying to match the opposition. National parties play a part in most elections, but the size of the donations to Virginia’s candidates proves the commonwealth’s ballooning importance as a swing state. “This is nothing new, but it is to Virginia,” says Jennifer Thompson, of the L. Douglas Wilder School of Government and Public Affairs for Virginia Commonwealth University. “Because of Obama’s win Virginia is now competitive.” Looking at the parties’ contributions in past Virginia gubernatorial races, they are nowhere close to the amounts being given this year. According to the nonprofit group, Virginia Public Access Project, the last two cycles pale in comparison: The DNC contributed $1.5 million to Gov. Tim Kaine's campaign and $660,000 to former Gov. Mark Warner; and the RNC contributed $886,316 to Jerry Kilgore and $29,100 to Mark Early. However, direct contributions aren’t the only factor at play—ad buys by the Republican Governors Association and the Democratic Governors Association have been pouring into the race as well. It isn’t even a matter of how much money is being spent on ads, but when they choose to spend money for those ads. The Washington Post reported that the DGA has spent $3 million in ads in the spring while the RGA waited for the fall to spend $4 million in similar ad buys. Some Democrats say the reason that Deeds is behind in the polls— trailing McDonnell by 7 points according to a Rasmussen poll—is that the DGA spent the money during the primaries and not during the general election campaign like the RGA has done. With only a handful of other races being decided on Election Day 2009, Deeds vs. McDonnell is getting a lot of attention. But, does this type of spending from the national parties mean that Virginia should be considered a swing state? “It’s too early to call Virginia a bellwether state because there have not been enough democratic wins—maybe for governor and local state races,” says Thompson, “If Virginia continues to flip and flop, it might be considered to be a bellwether and will continue to see the money come in.”Matt Lim is a Politics magazine intern.