Virginia Senate hopefuls get cash from party groups

RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — As the Nov. 3 election approaches, the candidates for the District 10 seat in the Virginia Senate are asking not only for your vote but also for your financial support. And in the money race, Republican nominee Glen Sturtevant is catching up to his Democratic opponent, Dan Gecker.

Campaign Finance 2

During September, Sturtevant received $374,525 in cash donations, mostly from Republican Party organizations, according to campaign finance reports filed Thursday. That means he has raised $622,530 during the campaign.

Gecker received $187,054 in cash donations last month, mostly from Democratic Gov. Terry McAuliffe’s political action committee, Common Good Virginia. For the entire campaign, Gecker has now raised $770,712.

Moreover, both candidates received a lot of in-kind contributions — donated goods and services, such as mailings and canvassing — in September. Gecker’s in-kind donations totaled $241,656, largely from the state Democratic Party, the Virginia League of Conservation Voters and the Planned Parenthood Virginia PAC. Sturtevant’s in-kind contributions totaled $70,412, almost all from the state Republican Party.

Gecker, a member of the Chesterfield County Board of Supervisors, and Sturtevant, a member of the Richmond School Board, are vying to succeed retiring Sen. John Watkins of Chesterfield. Watkins is a Republican who has sided with Democrats on some issues such as expanding Medicaid.

Campaign Finance 4

Also on the ballot are Carl Loser, a Libertarian who has raised $5,634, and Marleen K Durfee, an independent who has raised $17,466.

From Jan. 1 through Sept. 30, Sturtevant has received nearly 60 percent of his campaign funds from three groups:

  • $180,000 from the Republican State Leadership Committee in Washington
  • $97,000 from the Middle Resolution PAC in Mechanicsville
  • $91,709 from the Virginia Senate Republican Caucus

About 23 percent of Sturtevant’s donations have come from individuals and the rest from political organizations and businesses.

Campaign Finance 3

Gecker’s largest cash donor is Common Good Virginia. In addition, he has contributed $95,000 to his own campaign. And Urban Development Associates, a Richmond business that revitalizes and preserves historic areas and is co-owned by Gecker, gave his campaign $60,000.

Other large donors include Trustworthy Real Estate LLC of Richmond, $30,000; Sonjia Smith of Charlottesville, $25,000; and the Rebkee Co., a Midlothian developer, also $25,000.

Gecker has received 43 percent of his cash donations from individuals and the rest from PACs and businesses.

The 10th Senate District includes Powhatan County and parts of Chesterfield County and the city of Richmond. It is one of a handful of Senate districts that political analysts say is up for grabs.

Donations are important in helping candidates get their message to the public and get their supporters to the polls, said Dr. Stephen Farnsworth, a professor of political science and international affairs at the University of Mary Washington.

“Money is used for advertisements, campaign mailings and door-to-door messaging,” he said.

The 10th District election could decide which political party controls the Virginia Senate, Farnsworth noted.

“The Senate is divided 21 to 19 in favor of Republicans,” he said. “If the Democrats win the 10th District seat and hold their current seats, then it will be 20 to 20.” That would give Democrats the edge because tie votes in the Senate are decided by the lieutenant governor — currently Ralph Northam, a Democrat.

But if Sturtevant wins the 10th Senate District seat, the Republicans will cause trouble for McAuliffe.

“It would make things tough for the governor to get anything done over the next two years, forcing a possible gridlock in Richmond,” Farnsworth said.

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