The final money tally is in, and it looks like more money was spent on House of Delegates elections in 2019 than any election in Virginia history. That was a nearly 42% increase over 2017, which itself was a record, according to data published by the Virginia Public Access Project. Democrats raised $38.2 million in the current election cycle, and Republicans raised $28.6.
Clearly, more money is better than less money when you’re running an election campaign. But having more money is no guarantee of victory. Del. Tim Hugo, D-Centreville, led the pack with $2.1 million, but he lost the election in a blue tide that swept over Northern Virginia.
Judging from anecdotal evidence, I suspect that a lot of the money was wasted. There is only so much spending that a media market can productively absorb. In my senatorial district, a showdown between Siobhan Dunnavant, R-Henrico, and Debra Rodman, D-Henrico, In the final days, we were deluged with direct mail pieces. I read the first few, but after a while, the mailers went straight into the trash.
A logical question to ask: Is campaign spending out of control? Should we restrict campaign donations?
Here’s a list of top donors to House candidates:
House Democratic Caucus — $4,218,708
Democratic Party of Virginia — $3,498,080
Republican Party of Virginia — $3,425,441
Colonial Leadership Trust PAC — $1,835,255
Republican State Leadership Committee — $1,822,982
Emily’s List — $1,001,500
The Way Ahead — $759,863
Win Virginia — $701,998
Michael D. Bills — $657,000
Virginia League of Conservation Voters — $644,420
House Republican Campaign Committee — $634,850
Beyond Carbon Action Fund — $613,200
Richard E. Uihlein — $516,000
Everytown for Gun Safety — $446,081
Democracy PAC — $445,000
Future Now — $437,871
S. Sonjia Smith — $411,414
Dominion Energy — $404,938
Planned Parenthood Va — $382,387
Paul Milde — $350,481
Of the top 20 donors, only one, Dominion Energy, was a traditional “special interest” of the corporate variety. The rest were wealthy individuals, advocacy groups, or arms of the political parties.
Yes, it sucks that politics is dominated by special interests. From my perspective, it sucks even more now that Democrats totally dominate the big money contributions. Undoubtedly Dems will use their enhanced power in state politics to augment their money dominance. But what do you do about it? Is capping campaign contributions the answer?
Money will always find a way. If Environmentalists and gun control zealots want to push for renewable energy and restrictions on gun purchases, they’re going to find a way to advance those causes. If they can’t contribute to favored candidates, they will funnel their money into nonprofit “educational” groups or issue advertising or the underwriting of media organizations. At least when they donate to candidates, the money is visible and we can see who is pulling the puppet strings.There are currently no comments highlighted.