By Reid Wilson - 06/22/09 03:06 PM EDT
The Republican National Committee transferred $1.5 million to the party's gubernatorial nominee in Virginia in May, boosting the GOP's investment in a race it hasn't won since 1997.
The RNC's transfer to former Attorney General Bob McDonnell came before the Republican officially won his party's nomination, though he had no serious challengers for the top spot.
Both parties have spent millions already on the open seat, vacated by term-limited Gov. Tim Kaine (D), and recent polls show the race between McDonnell and state Sen. Creigh Deeds (D) is a dead heat.
The DNC sent out an e-mail solicitation to President Obama's vaunted and legendary e-mail list, while the GOP has sent a number of high-profile party leaders into the state on McDonnell's behalf.
On Monday, Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour (R) hit fundraising events in Virginia Beach, Richmond and Alexandria with McDonnell. A spokesman for the former attorney general's campaign said the events raised a total of $250,000.
Earlier this month, Deeds won a heavily contested Democratic primary by a surprisingly wide margin, and his post-primary boost has erased any early advantage McDonnell had over his would-be rivals.
A new poll from the independent group Research 2000, on behalf of left-leaning DailyKos, shows McDonnell leading by a statistically insignificant 45 percent to 44 percent margin.
Like other Virginia races of late, most of which have broken for Democrats, Deeds's and McDonnell's fates will be decided by turnout in heavily Democratic Northern Virginia. In that region, which is growing in influence in state politics, Deeds leads McDonnell by a 64 percent to 22 percent margin. Around the rest of the state, the Republican is ahead, 54 percent to 36 percent.
The poll, taken June 15-17 among 600 registered voters for a margin of error of plus or minus 4 percent, showed more Virginians had a positive feeling about McDonnell (55 percent) than about Deeds (47 percent). Both men are viewed unfavorably by a little over one-third of the electorate.
The Democratic National Committee would not detail any expenditures it plans to make now that it has a nominee, though it intends to stay active.
"We're obviously not going to talk about the specifics of any tactics or strategy, but we're fully committed to ensuring a Deeds victory in Virginia so that the commonwealth can continue to move forward under pragmatic, progressive leadership," said Hari Sevugan, a DNC spokesman.
Both the Republican Governors Association and the Democratic Governors Association have signaled they will spend significant resources in Virginia and New Jersey, the other state with a governor's race this year. The DGA has already started running ads against McDonnell through a third-party group, Common Sense Virginia.
"Republicans have strong candidates for governor in New Jersey and Virginia, and the RNC will throw our full support behind both races," RNC Communications Director Trevor Francis told The Hill.