Statewide Dems in Virginia see strong fundraising despite dip for scandal-plagued leaders

Statewide Dems in Virginia see strong fundraising despite dip for scandal-plagued leaders
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Democratic legislators in Virginia enjoyed a strong fundraising quarter in early 2019 despite scandals dogging the state's Democratic governor, lieutenant governor and attorney general.

Virginia was rocked by scandal earlier this year after a photo emerged from Gov. Ralph Northam's medical school yearbook page showing a man in blackface standing next to someone else in a Ku Klux Klan robe and hat.

Northam initially apologized before saying the photo was not of him, but he separately acknowledged wearing blackface as part of a Michael Jackson costume.

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Shortly thereafter, Attorney General Mark Herring also admitted to wearing blackface in the past, while Lt. Gov. Justin Fairfax faces accusations of sexual assault that he has denied.

None of the three men have resigned, and The Washington Post reported Wednesday that Democratic candidates for the state House and Senate outraised their Republican counterparts by roughly $700,000 in the first quarter of 2019 despite all the scandals.

Democrats took in $2.4 million in total over the first 3 months of the year.

Virginia House Democrats celebrated the steady stream of funds in a letter to supporters Tuesday that was first reported by the Post.

“These reports are hard, on-paper evidence that the will to win among Democrats is at an all-time high,” the email said, according to the newspaper. “We have the momentum and we have the competitive edge.”

The scandals surrounding the top Democrats have left many wondering whether it could give Republicans a new opening in the state to make gains. 

Republicans maintain an advantage over Democrats in terms of cash on hand, according to the Post. Virginia state House Republicans have $6 million on hand, according to Federal Election Commission filings, compared to $4.2 million for Democrats. In the Senate, the advantage is much smaller: Republicans have $4.9 million on hand, Democrats have $4.4 million.

“House Democrats are playing catch up after the Speaker’s strong year gave us a big head start, but we know that out of state donors and wealthy progressives will spend almost anything to buy a majority in the House,” a spokesman for state House Speaker Kirk Cox (R) told the Post.