Youngkin loaned $6.5 million more to his campaign, bringing personal total to $12 million

June 2, 2021

Richmond Times-Dispatch: Youngkin loaned $6.5 million more to his campaign, bringing personal total to $12 million

By: Mel Leonor

Glenn Youngkin, the GOP nominee for governor, is kicking off his general election campaign with substantial financial power: he poured $6.5 million more of his own money into his campaign in the last two months and raised $1.8 million from donors.

Youngkin already had loaned his campaign $5.5 million in early 2021 to compete in the GOP convention, bringing his personal total so far to $12 million, according to the Virginia Public Access Project.

Financial disclosures that statewide candidates filed Tuesday suggest the former private equity CEO’s personal wealth, reportedly $200 million or more, could yield a competitive governor’s race in Virginia, a state increasingly favorable to Democrats.

Democrats will elect their nominee Tuesday in a statewide primary from a field of five candidates, including former Gov. Terry McAuliffe, the apparent front-runner. McAuliffe raised $2.9 million in April and May, about $800,000 more than the other Democrats combined.

The nominees will face off in a November election seen as a bellwether for congressional elections in 2022.

Youngkin became the GOP nominee on May 10, when he defeated six other Republicans in a statewide convention. The timeline afforded Youngkin a monthlong head start on campaigning, which he has used to hold events and jump on broadcast TV.

“Because he’s relatively unknown, he’s trying to define himself before the Democratic candidate can do that for him,” said Bob Holsworth, a longtime Virginia political analyst. “He’s going to have to put in enormous sums to overcome Democratic tendencies in this state — it’s really his only chance.

“But it’s a challenge for the Democrats,” Holsworth added. “No one would have expected a year ago that if McAuliffe was the nominee, that he would be outspent. And that’s now a possibility in this race.”

Holsworth said that while Youngkin already has invested an “extraordinary amount of personal wealth” in his campaign, “he has been able to attract large donations from both traditional GOP donors and others who have not previously supported a candidate at these levels.”

Youngkin reported about $4.8 million in cash on hand at the end of the reporting period, compared with about $3.3 million for McAuliffe.

The Democratic primary

Tuesday’s financial disclosures shed light on the resources the Democrats had to close out the race heading into the June 8 primary.

Former Del. Jennifer Carroll Foy of Prince William County and Sen. Jennifer McClellan of Richmond reported near-identical fundraising hauls in the last two months of the race: $1.03 million, including cash and gifts for Carroll Foy and $1.01 million for McClellan.

Unlike McAuliffe, the two candidates have largely exhausted their funds in the run up to June 8. Carroll Foy reported $281,657 in cash on hand as of May 27 while McClellan reported a balance of $60,464.

Carroll Foy came into the last stretch with a substantial financial advantage over McClellan, thanks in part to a large haul from Clean Virginia, a utility reform group backed by Charlottesville philanthropist Michael Bills.

Lt. Gov. Justin Fairfax raised $4,040 during the period and Del. Lee Carter, D-Manassas raised $34,133.

“Primary polls notoriously don’t capture the grassroots energy on the ground,” said Holsworth.

“But McAuliffe was a popular governor. Almost all Black mayors in major cities endorsed him, as well as many legislative leaders across the board,” he said. “That looks to me like he has a pretty good machine. He remains the favorite and certainly the front-runner, but we have to be cognizant that we’ve seen upsets in primaries.”

Big donors

McAuliffe’s biggest donor in the period was Sean Parker, the Herndon-born billionaire who co-founded Napster and was an early president of Facebook. Parker contributed $250,000 to McAuliffe in late May. He contributed $500,000 to McAuliffe’s 2013 run for governor.

Carroll Foy’s biggest contribution of $250,000 came from EMILYs List, a political group dedicated to boosting women in politics. McClellan’s biggest contribution, at $100,000 came from Steve Phillips, a civil rights lawyer who is a senior fellow at the Center for American Progress and the founder of Democracy in Color.

Youngkin received $100,000 each from five donors, including construction executive Peter C. Forster and Richard Baxter Gilliam, founder of Abingdon-based coal company Cumberland Resources, which Gilliam sold to Massey Energy in 2010.

Youngkin also received $10,000 from John O. “Dubby” Wynne, the former GO Virginia chairman and former CEO of Landmark Communications. Wynne has also backed many Democrats in the past and this year, including House Speaker Eileen Filler-Corn of Fairfax. Youngkin is his second GOP recipient, following a donation to Del. Kirk Cox, R-Colonial Heights during his race for the GOP gubernatorial nomination.